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Army Navy Football Game

Army Navy Football Game - Shortly before the Army-Navy football game will be played for the 111th time this afternoon at Philadelphia’s jam-packed Lincoln Financial Field, the two Navy captains, Wyatt Middleton and Ricky Dobbs, will escort Mr. Thomas J. Hudner, Jr. to the middle of the field where he will perform the coin toss just before the 2:30 p.m. kickoff.

Mr. Hudner, as part of the game’s gloried tradition, will be celebrated as the official “starter,” for lack of a better word, as many other Americans heroes have done throughout the years. He is now 86 and is thrilled at the honor. But there is more. Mr. Hudner, who was graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in the spring of 1946, is white. Both Wyatt and Ricky are black.

Army Navy Football Game

One’s race means nothing in sports today, nor does it at the academies, but once it did, and today’s march with Mr. Hudner to the mid-stripe will probably mean more to the two Navy seniors than most of us will ever be able to comprehend.

Allow me to explain. Both Middleton, a defensive safety, and Dobbs, a quarterback, are from the south. Wyatt played in high school at Marist in Atlanta while Ricky starred not far away at Douglasville, Ga. Both senior captains are fantastic; Wyatt starting every game for four years while Ricky has set all sorts of records. But next year, instead of going to the NFL, their next duty assignment will be in “surface warfare,” i.e. battleships, destroyers and such.

Army Navy Football Game

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