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Top College Football Coach Previews Army-Navy And Why This Game Is Special

Ahead of the Army Navy game on Saturday, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Army Head Coach, Jeff Monken, to discuss the game, what it's like coaching at an Academy, and a few things in between. Anyone who knows anything about college football knows Coach Monken is widely respected. What he's done for the Army Football program is exceptional and impressive - in his 9 years as the head coach he's become the 2nd winningest coach of all time at Army, been to 5 bowl games and won 4 of them, and captured the Commander-In-Chief's trophy 3 times, while snagging the Lambert Trophy twice. Stacked resume. 

He tells us why this game is the best rivalry in sports and I fully agree. Yes, it's better than Ohio St/Michigan. It's better than Yankees/Red Sox. It's better than any other example you throw at me and we discuss why. 

Part of why I enjoyed the conversation with Coach Monken is because I admire the care he's taken of our program. Army Football is a big part of my life. (Unless you've been under a rock the last 7 years or have never heard me speak before, I played football at Army. I've literally worked it into most conversations even when it makes no sense.)

I'll save you the google search and tell you that you won't find many stats on me. I was a backup QB (and starting holder. Zero muffed snaps. They should keep that stat) but ultimate team guy, which is perhaps why this team and this game mean so much in my life. 

Aside from the rivalry on the field, it's a special game. Millions of people watching not just in this country but all over the world - grads on both sides stationed in every corner of the planet stop what they are doing to watch. Everyone noting that Army Navy is a bucket list sporting event. However, take football out of the equation and you can begin to understand why this game is more special than any other. 

As Coach Monken spoke about, we sign up for a commitment to a greater mission than any one of us after graduation. Teammates on all teams form bonds, but none like signing up to serve, to bleed, to sacrifice for your country and one another. That's special.

Special is sobbing in your locker following your final Army Navy game knowing you'll never get another shot, you'll never play football again, and your brother putting his arm around your shoulder without saying a word but ultimately speaking volumes. 

Special is being on a mission in the middle of the pitch black night in Iraq, things getting a little dicey, hearing helicopters over head to protect you, and hearing the voice of one of the pilots. Recognizing that voice is your brother who had the locker next to you for 4 years and instantly feeling safer.

Special is your brother deciding he needs to do something to honor the fallen so he begins a 7,100km trek across the country and you join him to support his mission because you don't want him to be alone.

Special is being in a dark place because of all you experienced while serving and instantly being lifted up by your brother simply from a phone call. 

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Special is receiving the opportunity to give back to a country that gave you so much beyond the game of football. 

That's why this game is the best rivalry in sports. No other game will illicit as many ramifications after the final whistle. It is bigger than any one of us. Every December, I'm proud to tell people, "Yep, I played in that game." I'm proud to be even a small part.

BEAT NAVY

P.S. A Civil War by John Feinstein is all about this rivalry and he does a wonderful job explaining what it is like if you're looking for a great book to read 

P.P.S. I am in the NCAA video game so that's not bad