Sorry Oregon, Maryland, Washington State, Oregon State. Sorry traditionalists like Penn State and Michigan. But, the best uniforms of 2017 season belong to the U.S. military academies. On Saturday, Army and Navy will play in their 118th meeting in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Stadium.
Both programs have evolved with the evolution of uniforms produced by apparel manufacturers Nike, Under Armour, and adidas. A new tradition is both teams using alternate uniforms for their classic meeting, usually tributes to their respective history. This year’s editions are second to none.
Navy’s uniforms are a tribute to their flight team, the Blue Angels.
That blue is a thing of beauty and a personal favorite with my deep infatuation to the actual Blue Angels. The helmets are hand-painted that mimic the helmets of the Blue Angels’ pilots as well as them in Delta Formation
Army’s uniforms are all-white and are a tribute to the 10th Mountain Division, formed during World War II. The helmets mimic the story of the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division hand-painted their helmets white in the winter. It’s said the paint would chip away from wear and tear revealing the olive drab underneath.
That’s not all that is special about the Black Knights’ choice of uniforms. Their cleats will feature a panda emblem which honors the 10th Mountain Division’s roots in Pando, Colo. The patch helped identify the soldiers, who were nicknamed the Pando Commandos.
Bill Bowerman, who would eventually go on to co-found Nike, organized the supplies and maintained the mules for the 10th Mountain Division as a Major in the Army, serving at the time as the commander of the 86th Regiment’s First Battalion.
The back of their helmets will have a “Follow Me” strip. This goes back to 10th Mountain Division, who used a dark stripe on the back of their uniforms to stay in formation. It was an identification tool to “Follow Me.”
They will also feature a patch under their right shoulder. The patch will feature the coat and arms of the division as well as their mantra “Vires Montesque Vincimus,” which translates to “We Conquer Powers and Mountains.”
The game itself is special and historic sighting. A reminder of the contributions and sacrifice of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Army and Navy uniforms do a great job to extend the reminder. This year’s combination is arguably the game’s best. But that’s not to say they have not had some great ones before.
Last year’s markings by Navy were arguably the best yellow-themed uniforms in sports history. The programs have done their best to put more attention on such a remarkable rivalry.
Recently, the game was moved to the second Saturday of December or the week following the Conference Championship Games to make it a standalone contest. Now Nike and Under Armour continue to give the game added notoriety with the unique uniforms. And with Army enjoying one of its best seasons in years as well as the continued success of Navy, there is a new generation of fans turning their eyes to the game.