See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

They used to call him “The Giant” – they being The Taliban. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva is still a giant, he’s just not fighting in Afghanistan anymore. His new fight is the ten-yard fight and the erstwhile U.S. Army second lieutenant’s new job is protecting the back of Steelers QB, Ben Roethlisberger. And judging by the team’s performance against the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 8, 2018, he must be pretty good at it.

Before the game kicked off, Fox Sports caught a glimpse of Villanueva jogging over to the sidelines to greet some active duty and reserve troops. That’s when you can really understand why the Taliban gave him that nickname.


Villanueva is a West Point graduate and played collegiate football on the offensive line for the Army Black Knights. When photographed with other NFL players — who are all large human beings — his size doesn’t seem all that remarkable. It’s when he goes to the sidelines to visit U.S. troops that you can see just how huge he is compared to the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States – who are no strangers to working out themselves.

And that’s probably why the Steelers have him watching Big Ben’s back.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

One of these two is nicknamed “Big,” the other one is Alejandro Villanueva.

On the field, Roethlisberger looks like he lives up to the nickname “Big Ben.” The Steelers QB is 6’5″ and 240 pounds, cutting a unique outline on the playing field. In comparison, Villanueva is 6’9″ and 320 pounds.

Villanueva is still dedicated to the traditions held dear by most military veterans. During the 2017-2018 season, he created a row by leaving the locker room for the national anthem, leaving the rest of his team inside, a decision he later regretted. When sales of his jersey spiked in response to that action, it became the most popular jersey in the league. The former Army Ranger donated the proceeds of jersey sales to the USO and veteran-related nonprofits in AFC North cities, as he always has.

That consistency defines Alejandro Villanueva. He wasn’t just visiting troops before the Steelers-Panthers game because of the NFL’s “Salute to Service” month or any special event. He always goes to shake hands with visiting troops before every game, home or away.

Just for fun, watch Villanueva manhandle legendary Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is 6’3″ and 265 pounds and is number 19 on the all-time QB sack records. Villanueva chops him down like he’s made of balsa wood.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Rangers lead the way.

MIGHTY CULTURE

An NFL player and West Pointer reenlisted troops before the Cardinals-Rams game

In the hours before the Arizona Cardinals kicked off against the Los Angeles Rams, an even more special thing happened in the Cardinals’ end zone. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, it was only one of two events that took place in their end zone all night. Arizona fell to Los Angeles 31-9, but 45 U.S. troops were sworn in or reenlisted that night.


You win some, you lose some.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game
West Point NFL player conducts mass oath of enlistment ceremony

But wait a minute. According to 10 U.S. Code § 502, the oath has to be administered by a commissioned officer. So who is swearing in these kids and troops? That’s 1st Lt. Brett Toth, who is a beneficiary of the recent rule changes to service academy athletes. Toth’s military service requirement was deferred in order to play offensive tackle for the Arizona Cardinals while he was in prime physical condition. Toth is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a former player for the Army Black Knights football team. He played in two of Army’s most recent wins over Navy.

The group of 45 future soldiers and Marines gathered in front of him before the game’s kickoff were recruits from the Phoenix Recruiting Battalion and was part of the local Salute to Service celebration within the Cardinals franchise. The Cardinals, former home of a deceased Army ranger and former Cardinal Pat Tillman, are very excited to celebrate Salute to Service every November. It doesn’t hurt to have an actual lieutenant on hand, either.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(U.S. Army photo by Alun Thomas)

As Toth, who is currently on the team’s disabled list, led the mass Oath of Enlistment, the crowd began to cheer wildly. After taking the oath, the 45 newly-christened U.S. troops were able to stay for the game. When the Cardinals took the field, the first people out of the locker room were Capt. Edward Donaghue, commander of the Phoenix Recruiting Battalion, and Staff Sgt. Gregory Hunter, one of the battalion’s recruiters.

Though the game started on a very high note for the Cardinals players and for America’s newest troops, it didn’t take long to turn for the worst. The Cardinals were soundly defeated in a 31-9 loss to the Rams.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The best touchdown celebrations from 2018 so far

Riverdance is back. The Funky Chicken is back — all with the Chad Ochocinco seal of approval. The NFL relaxed the touchdown celebrations rule in 2017, the rule that led many fans to refer to the NFL as the “No Fun League.” And rightfully so; the most exciting part of the game is an awesome touchdown. The players deserve to celebrate but, more importantly, the fans want to see that excitement.


Players are really making the most of their post-touchdown euphoria in 2018. This year, we’ve seen celebrations that range anywhere from group activities to pop culture references to popular dance moves. They’re even bringing in looks from other sports. Going into week 6 of the 2018 season, these the fan favorites so far.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

10. Keenan Allen goes 6ix9ine

So what if you’re still down 18-31 in the fourth quarter, we’re still having a good time. At least Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen was, busting out the Tati during the Chargers’ season opener.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

9. Alvin Kamara joins Saints fans

What do you call it when a Saint outdoes any Lambeau Leap you’ve ever seen? A leap of faith? Ascending to heaven? Whatever you call it, some New Orleans fans now have an epic selfie.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

8.Eric Ebron revived and hyped

The Colts’ tight end plays Fortnite — who would’ve thought? If you’re confused by this, all you need to know is that Ebron isn’t pretending to be a horse, he just needed to be revived by his teammates, who then joined him in a hype dance.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

7. Donte Moncrief’s air guitar 

How does a Jaguars wide receiver celebrate drawing first blood against the Patriots? If you’re Donte Moncrief, you play some sweet licks on a guitar that only other Jags can hear.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

6. Tyreek Hill’s Forrest Gump impression

Next time Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill runs a punt return back for a touchdown, I hope Chiefs fans have a “STOP FORREST” sign ready to go. Hill ran off the field and emerged on the Chiefs’ sideline moments later.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

5. The Browns’ DBZ Fusion Dance

If you watched this season of HBO’s Hard Knocks, then you probably know that Browns tight ends Darren Fells and David Njoku have been planning this one for a while. They got their chance against the Raiders in Week 4.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

4. Cam Newton doing the bull dance

Doing the Superman, the bull dance, and feeling the flow. Newton scored on a short-yardage touchdown run only to ride the bull before doing his usual “superman” celebration.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

3. Demetrius Harris sinks a free throw

Do you have that friend who doesn’t watch football and makes the same lame joke about football players “scoring a basket?” Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris scored a basket during this football game. Also, tell your friend that their joke wasn’t even funny the first time.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

2. JuJu Smith-Schuster gives birth

JuJu Smith-Schuster is not the first to give birth to a football, but this time around was much funnier than when then-Bengals corner back Pacman Jones did it to celebrate the birth of his baby. Steelers running back James Conner was his midwife. Baby and mother are doing fine.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

1. Dolphins high five at full sprint

What’s better than scoring a touchdown with a teammate? High-fiving that teammate at a full sprint as you cross the goal line against the Raiders. The Fins’ Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant need to have a photo of this moment framed and immortalized forever.

MIGHTY FUNNY

7 best memes from Super Bowl LIII

Super Bowl LIII was the stuff of… well, not legends, exactly — even though the Patriots did become only the second team in NFL history to win six Super Bowls. Whether you were rooting for Brady to cement his GOAT status or hoping the Rams could headbutt him into history, fans from both sides were a little disappointed by the early action in the game.

Here are some of the best memes to come out of the wait, the 4th-quarter fireworks, and the Super Bowl ads:


NFL Memes

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They’re not exactly wrong:

For anyone who missed the game and hasn’t seen yet: The defenses played amazingly and the coaches did well, but there weren’t many Hail Mary passes or stunning breakouts by running backs.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(NFL Memes)

So, yeah, if you were into offensive plays:

Defense wins championships — not hearts.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(NFL Memes)

The unforced errors were also disappointing, to say the least.

If everyone could just play like conference champions, that would be great.

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But then the 4th quarter happened.

But then, finally, the Patriots got into the Red Zone. And then they scored. And Rams fans … Well, their world was crushed.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(NFL Memes)

And the victory memes debuted basically immediately.

Good work, Patriots. Congrats on number six.

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There were some good ads, though.

On the ad side, Bud Light had a few great ones, Stella Artois had an awesome one with Jeff Bridges as The Dude, Harrison Ford and his dog taught everyone about failed Alexa prototypes, and Microsoft showed off their adaptive controllers.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Kia’s ad debuted their swimming SUV, for some reason.

To be clear, no, Kia isn’t releasing a swimming SUV. But their ad about the Kia Telluride showed the small town in Georgia that makes the car and then showed someone driving the car into a river like they didn’t want it anymore (and, yes, it more likely be the Coast Guard than Navy).

MIGHTY SPORTS

Team River Runner gets veterans out on the water

Terry Hunt, a blind veteran who receives health care at the Kernersville VA Health Care Center (HCC), mentioned several years ago that he wished he could participate in water sports.

Around the same time, Terri Everett, a Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist at the HCC, became a chapter coordinator for the national kayaking organization Team River Runner.

Team River Runner helps veterans and their families find health, healing, community purpose, and new challenges through adventure and adaptive paddle sports. It is funded through VA grants.


All Hunt needed to say was, “Let’s get on the water!” and Everett was ready to go. Shortly after they connected, Hunt began regular kayaking with the Triad Chapter of Team River Runner. He has been doing so for the past five years. Everett or other volunteers guide him on the water.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Nil Castellví)

Guides use voice commands and music

Guides use several methods to help blind people kayak, including voice commands, music and tethering, if necessary.

Hunt purchased his own kayak last year. He also participated in the 2018 High Rock Lake Dragon Boat Race, where he placed first in one of the races. He will compete in the Dragon Boat Race again this year as one of the lead rowers.

Everett has worked in blind rehabilitation for 38 years. She has participated in adaptive sports for disabled veterans for most of that time. She is a certified, level 2 American Canoe Association kayak instructor with adaptive endorsement.

Hunt has been kayaking for five years and loves every minute of it.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Murat Bahar)

New remote guiding system with sensors in vests

This past summer, Team River Runner and Hunt took kayaking to a new level for visually impaired and blind kayakers. They used a new, remote guiding system, developed and engineered by Team River Runner Chapter Coordinator Jim Riley.

The veteran wears a vest with sensors and Everett uses a paddle with a switch, guiding him based on where he feels the sensors. The vibrating sensation of sensors on his sides, chest and back let him know where he needs to concentrate effort.

It was an incredible success. On that day, they paddled four miles, in and out of coves, under bridges, in and around piers and then back to the dock. The guiding system will be featured at the VA Summer sports clinic in San Diego in September.

Reflecting on his experience, Hunt jubilantly declared, “This life vest, having pulsating areas at the right, left, front and back, to let the visual impaired person know which way you want them to go, was awesome!”

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by McKayla Crump)

“How awesome to feel independent!”

“This is incredible because it gave me a sense of greater independence,” Hunt said. He continued, “I feel this life vest is a breakthrough for help in enjoying the kayak trip for the visual impaired person.

“How awesome to feel independent on this day! I think this not only shows Team River Runners’ commitment to visual impaired persons, but also shows VA’s willingness to help our visual impaired community in ways not just connected to health care.

“It is a great feeling to do things you never thought you would ever do again.”

Hunt will continue his kayaking adventures with Team River Runner and beyond. He will attend the VA Summer Sports Clinic in September 2020. There, he will have the opportunity to kayak, sail, ride a tandem bike and participate in other activities. Kudos to Mr. Hunt for the positive example he is setting for other disabled veterans!

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

First a pandemic and now Tom Brady is leaving the Patriots?

Tom Brady is no longer a Patriot – after 20 years.


It’s the end of an era. Whether you love him, hate him, wish you could be him, wish you could be the guy that beat him, Tom Brady has loomed large in two decades of NFL dominance.

20 years. 6 championships. A lifetime of memories. Thank you, Tom.pic.twitter.com/exQPrweT5h

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His resume includes:

  • Six Super Bowl titles
  • Three time NFL MVP
  • Four time Super Bowl MVP
  • Nine Super Bowls appearances
  • 14 time Pro-Bowler
  • 30 playoff wins
  • 219 regular-season wins
  • 16 AFC East titles
  • Second all-time in passing touchdowns
  • Second all-time in passing yards
  • Fifth all-time in QB rating

Today, Brady will become something he has not been since the 1990s, an unrestricted free agent. The 42-year-old ageless wonder will test free agency (it should not be much of a test) and will be wearing another team’s colors next season. Brady released a statement via Instagram in which he thanked the Patriots organization, teammates and the fans for his two-decade run. As many football fans know, the Patriots were nothing like the franchise they are now, usually being a struggling team that did not have much success. They had made two Super Bowls previously losing both, including one of the worst losses in Super Bowl history.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

i.pinimg.com

Then, as the story famously goes, the Patriots drafted a quarterback in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Pick #199 was a quarterback out of the University of Michigan that not too many people were excited about. While at Michigan, he was a backup for two years before becoming the starter for the Wolverines his junior year. Heading into his senior year, Brady thought he was a lock to be the starter… only to find out that he had to compete with highly heralded recruit Drew Henson. Brady found himself the unpopular guy on campus as Wolverines fans (and some coaches) seemed to favor the younger QB. The plan was for Brady to start while Henson would come off the bench in the second quarter. Brady would have none of it. He fought tooth and nail and during the season cemented his status as the only QB that Michigan needed that season. Many NFL teams should have seen the tenacity and determination that Brady showed as a potential leader for their team.

Instead, they focused on mechanics and how he looked.

Here is his NFL Combine workout:

Tom Brady 2000 NFL Scouting Combine highlights

www.youtube.com

The Patriots drafted Brady and had him set as a back up to Drew Bledsoe. By this point, the Patriots had turned their franchise around first under the coaching of Bill Parcells and then under the helm of Bill Belichick. Bledsoe was their quarterback for the future. In 2001, he signed a 10 year, 100 million dollar contract, and was their guy that would lead them to glory. A big hit from the New York Jets Mo Lewis changed that fast. Bledsoe suffered massive internal injuries (doctors almost had to perform open chest surgery), and Brady had to step in.

Well, you all know what happened next.

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Brady (to the delight of Pats fans and despair of literally everyone else) would go on to have a career that will be hard for future quarterbacks to match. Yes, you can argue if Montana had it harder. You can argue if Brady is truly the best football “player” or the best at his position. You can argue it was really Belichick’s football genius and Brady is a “system quarterback.”

You can argue all that, but really the argument will fall on deaf ears.

Tom Brady will play for a different team next season. Rumors right now say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the San Diego Los Angeles Chargers (ugh that still hurts to write) are the front runners. He might go to these teams and do amazing, he might do average or he might really suck.

But he will also be 42 years old. There aren’t too many 40+ players in NFL history. There are even fewer that will have teams fighting to bring them on board to win a Super Bowl.

No matter where he ends up, hats off to an amazing athlete and all-time great!

MIGHTY SPORTS

Women’s Volleyball — Air Force at Wyoming (Thursday 8:30PM EST)

After spending the past 11 matches within the friendly confines of Cadet East Gym, the Air Force volleyball team heads back out on the road this week for its first road contests of the Mountain West season. Playing on back-to-back days for the first time since mid-September, the Falcons will travel to Wyoming on Thursday, Oct. 4, before heading to Colorado State on Friday, Oct. 5.


MIGHTY HISTORY

The bizarre history of the Naval Academy’s mascot, ‘Bill the Goat’

Every sports team needs their very own cartoony mascot to get the fans going. Sure, it’s a goofy tradition, but it gets the people cheering and those cheers spur the players on to victory, so no one ever questions it. Military academies are no different.

The Air Force Academy sports the high-flying falcon because it’s the apex predator across much of America’s sky. West Point is represented by the mule because it’s a hardy beast of burden that has carried the Army’s gear into many wars. The Naval Academy, in what seems like a lapse of logic, decided long ago that the best representation of the Navy and Marine Corps’ spirit is a goat.

The use of a goat as their mascot began in 1893 with El Cid the Goat, named after the famed Castilian general. Eventually, they settled on the name “Bill” because, you know, billy goats… And it just gets weirder from there.


See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

From 1847 to 1851, the Naval Academy used a cat as their mascot, which we can presume would’ve hated being paraded in front of large crowds.

(National Archives)

In the Navy’s defense, goats actually served a purpose on Navy vessels back in the days of fully rigged ships. Unlike most livestock that required specialized food, a goat can eat just about any kind of scraps, which is handy on a long voyage. And, once it fulfilled its purpose as a walking garbage disposal, as grim as it sounds, it provided the cooks with a fresh source of meat.

Yet, when the U.S. Naval Academy was founded in 1845, then-Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft chose his favorite animal to be the official mascot of his newly established military academy: the monkey. This didn’t last long because the logo was actually of a gorilla and, as most people know, gorilla’s aren’t monkeys. The next idea was a cat (which actually have a place in Naval history), then a bulldog (before the times of Chesty Puller), and then a carrier pigeon.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

Ever since, sailors have enjoyed a long tradition of giving their goats the clever name of ‘Bill.’

​(U.S. Navy Historical Center)

There are two different versions of the story of how the Navy finally got the goat.

The first of those version is simple: The previously mentioned El Cid the Goat appeared at the 1893 Army-Navy football game and its presence, supposedly, helped carry the team to victory. The Navy continued to bounce back and forth between mascots until officially sticking with the goat in 1904. Said goat was re-branded as “Bill,” named after the Commandant of Midshipmen, Commander Colby M. Chester’s pet goat, and the rest is history.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

The biggest takeaway from the legend is the difference between becoming a legend and getting a Captain’s Mast is whether or not you can attribute a Navy victory over West Point on your actions.

(U.S. Navy photo by Joaquin Murietta)

The other version is steeped in legend — and is entirely bizarre. As the story goes, a ship’s beloved pet goat had met its untimely end. Two ensigns were tasked with heading ashore to bring the goat to a taxidermist so that its legacy could live on. The ensigns got lost on their way to the taxidermist, as most butter bars do, and wound up at the Army-Navy game.

The legend never specifies who, exactly, came up with this brilliant idea, but one of them apparently thought, “you know what? f*ck it” and wore the goat’s skin like a cape. During halftime, one ensign ran across the sidelines (because sporting arena security wasn’t a thing then) donning the goat skin and was met with thunderous applause.

Instead of reprimanding the two idiots for clearly doing the exact opposite of what their captain had asked of them, the Naval Academy rolled with it and attributed their victory over the Army to the goat.

This version is kind of suspect because El Cid the Goat was at the fourth game so the goat-skin midshipman would have had to been at one of the three games prior. The first and third games were held at West Point (which is clearly far away from any wandering ensigns) and second Army/Navy game was a victory for Army. But hey! It’s all in good fun.

MIGHTY SPORTS

That time the Panthers ran a play from ‘Little Giants’

In 2011, the Carolina Panthers were up 14-0 against the Houston Texans. With time running out in the first half, Carolina ran a trick play that saw quarterback Cam Newton secretly slip the ball between the legs of tight end Richie Brockel after quickly taking the snap. Brockel ran the ball in for another touchdown and the Panthers would win the game, 28-13.

After the game, reporters wanted to know where head coach Ron Rivera drew inspiration for the play. The answer was the movie, Little Giants.


The play even has a name – “The Annexation of Puerto Rico” – and it was devised by the tiny computer nerd, “Nubie,” who explained it to John Madden as a slow fake play with the quarterback running to one side of the field and a tailback picking up the ball and swinging around the opposite way.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

“The Annexation of Puerto Rico” from the 1994 movie “Little Giants”

The play in Little Giants sounds a lot like the legendary trick play, the fumblerooski, where the hidden ball is purposely set down by the QB who then distracts the opposing team by running with the “ball” or “handing it off” to another player. Then, another player, usually a player no one would suspect, like a lineman, picks it up, and runs it home.

It might literally be the oldest trick in the book, which is what might have attracted Ron Rivera to the “Annexation of Puerto Rico” in the first place.

For the Carolina Panthers, they couldn’t purposely forward fumble the ball, that’s illegal in the NFL. And they still had to fool the Texans defenders. So Cam Newton takes the quick snap and most of the Carolina players continue the play as if it’s moving to the right, while others make key blocks to keep the way clear for Brockel.

Who says real life is nothing like the movies?

Actor Ed O’Neill played Kevin O’Shea, the coach of the Little Giants’ number one enemy: the Cowboys. During an interview with NFL analyst Rich Eisen, Eisen told O’Neill the play had actually been used by an NFL team. O’Neill is an avid football fan and former NFL player who was a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers before being cut by the team in 1969.

He had no idea. His response (with a smile): “You gotta be kidding me.”

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4 awesome traditions to look for at the Army-Navy Game

Along with more than 100 years of history, the game comes steeped in traditions that range from the usual smack talk between fans to events that can only be found when Army plays Navy.


Almost all American sporting events feature the National Anthem, many games get a U.S. military flyover, and every sports rivalry is characterized by fans going above and beyond to demonstrate their team spirit. The Army-Navy Game has all of those, except this game gets a flyover from two service branches and fans in attendance willing to break strict uniform regulations to show their spirit.

Along with the traditions typical of every other sporting event, the Army-Navy Game comes with the added traditions of two military academies that are older than the sport they’re playing, of military branches whose own traditions date back to the founding of the United States, and a unique culture developed through the history of American military training.

And despite the intense rivalry, it’s all in good fun.

1. The Prisoner Exchange

Before the game kicks off, seven West Point cadets and seven Annapolis midshipmen will march to midfield in Philadelphia to be returned to their home military academies. These “prisoners” were sent to their rival service academies in the Service Academy Exchange Program, which sends students from each of four service academies (along with West Point and Annapolis, the Air Force Academy and the Coast Guard Academy also participate) for the fall semester.

The prestigious, competitive exchange program began its semester-long life in 1975 and has remained the same ever since. Each academy sends seven sophomore students to the other academies. The “Prisoner Exchange” allows the visiting cadets and mids to sit with their team’s fans.

2. The Army-Navy Drumline Battle

At the Army-Navy Game, there’s more confrontation than just what happens on the football field. Before the game, the bands representing each branch engage in a drumline – one as much about showmanship as it is about skills with the sticks.

3. “The March On”

Before the kickoff of every Army-Navy Game, the cadets of the U.S. Military Academy and the midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy take the field. No, not just the teams playing the game that day, the entire student body — thousands of people — march on the field in the way only drilled and trained U.S. troops can.

4. “Honoring the Fallen”

Every Army-Navy Game is going to see one loser and one winner. No matter what the outcome of the game, the players sing both teams’ alma maters. The winners will join the losing team, facing the losing side’s fans. Then, the two groups will do the same for the winning team. It’s a simple act of respectful sportsmanship that reminds everyone they’re on the same side.

To date, this tradition hasn’t caught on across college teams, but it might be happening as we speak. The Navy team invites every school it plays to sing “Navy Blue and Gold” after the game, and sometimes they do, like in 2014, when the Ohio State Buckeyes joined in.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

This weekend, the greatest rivalry in American sports kicks off (albeit under different circumstances).  This year, the Army Black Knights will host the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The game is usually held at a neutral location but with COVID-19 putting a hold on public gatherings, both schools decided to move the location of the game to West Point. This is the first time since 1943 that the game will be held on campus. While the game location might be different than usual, USAA is working to make sure that fans can still experience the pageantry and excitement of this year’s game, and giving fans an opportunity to win a package to next year’s game! 

USAA partnered with NBA legend and Naval Academy graduate, David Robinson to promote the Army Navy House sweepstakes. 

What is it?

Go to ArmyNavyHouse.com and upload a photo that shows off your Army or Navy fandom, or your favorite Army-Navy Game memory – and you will be entered for a chance to win.

What can you win? 

Well, one Army winner and one Navy winner will each win a trip (including flight, hotel, game tickets) to the 2021 Army-Navy Game in New York, courtesy of USAA.

We Are the Mighty got to sit down with David Robinson and talk about his time at the Naval Academy, his service in the Navy and what the Army-Navy rivalry means to him.

Robinson, known around the world as “The Admiral” played basketball at Navy, before going on to a storied NBA career. Robinson served in the Navy for two years, stationed at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia. Robinson then became a two-time NBA champion, NBA MVP, 10-time All-Star, and led the league in scoring, rebounds and blocks several times. He also was a three-time Olympian, winning the gold medal twice, most famously as a member of the 1992 USA Basketball team. The team would go down as the best basketball team of all time, forever remembered as the Dream Team. Robinson was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame and is considered one of the game’s all time greats. 

The Admiral was kind enough to talk about the game, what USAA is doing, and his time as a midshipman and a Naval Officer. 

David Robinson on the cover of Sports Illustrated
David Robinson on the cover of Sports Illustrated

WATM: So, the first question is what does the Army-Navy, I’m sorry, Navy-Army game, mean to you?

Robinson: (Laughs) It’s the Navy-Army Game. It’s just a great rivalry. It’s a classic rivalry that has class. Some of the rivalries I’ve seen, people are kind of being mean to each other but here there’s just the utmost level of respect that’s been going on forever. And, to me, it’s the best example of just good hard competition and rivalry that we have in all of sport.

WATM: As a midshipman, what was your favorite experience at the Navy-Army game?

Robinson: I actually never got a chance to go! We played basketball, and it always happens during the basketball season. My professional career again, basketball, got in the way so for many, many years. I started going a few years ago. It was four years ago or so and, and I just enjoyed it tremendously. I had always watched on TV, seeing all the excitement, but it’s a different experience in person.

WATM: Oh wow, I didn’t know you couldn’t go when you were in school. But now that you get to go, what is your favorite tradition from the game?

Robinson: The thing I always enjoy is watching the midshipmen and watching the cadets. You know for me, it just takes me back to us going down to do pushups after scores. And so, you know, I think for me it’s just a, it’s a reminder of life at the Academy. I love watching after a team scores the excitement of the students.

WATM: So when you played in San Antonio, which we know is an Air Force town, did you get a lot of grief for being a naval officer?

Robinson: (Laughs) No, no grief. I think it’s been fantastic actually. You know, we have a couple of Army bases and couple of Air Force bases here and it’s just a really great place to live. The military has embraced me so well here, I’ve always felt right at home.

Fortunately, you know, people forgive you after you beat them a couple of times. You look back down the road and it’s actually been a great place for me to be because of the military.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game
NBA.com

WATM: What advice would you give enlisted troops or kids who are thinking of attending a service academy? 

Robinson: Yeah, I would say, you know, the academies are very, very difficult and they’re very focused. You have to know what you want to get out of it. I always tell people I talked to young kids who want to go to the academies all the time and I tell them that, you know, don’t go because someone else thinks it’s a great idea for you. You’d have to go because it’s your idea and it’s what you think is the perfect thing for you. And if you do that, then you’ll be able to kind of fight through all of the challenges and become a really solid officer. The academies are amazing for people who want to be leaders and who want to take on the responsibility of a leader, which is good and bad, right? You get privileges but you also have tremendous responsibility for people. And if you have a heart to be that type of a person, then you can’t find a better place to go.

WATM: What made you choose the Naval Academy?

Robinson: Well, I think it was my father’s idea for me to go more than anything early on. He introduced me to it and wanted me to take a look at it, I think because he was enlisted in the Navy. He always thought that would be a great path for me and it took a little while for it to grow on me. I grew so late into basketball and it became a factor for me in my senior year. I started looking around and saying, well, is this the best place for me to go, academically and basketball-wise… and and it just had the best combination of everything that fit my personality.

WATM: When you were at the Naval Academy, you were heralded as one of the nation’s best basketball players. How supportive was the administration as it became apparent that you were destined to end up in the NBA at some point?

Robinson: Well, the administration was remarkably supportive, to be honest with you. I mean, coming in, no one thought I was going to be professional basketball player, I was 6’7’ and skinny as a rail. I wasn’t a pro prospect coming in but as the attention gathered and we had more and more success, the Academy did just a great job of embracing me and given me an opportunity to be who I needed to be as a basketball player as well as a military officer. Looking back on it at all, it just worked out so well I couldn’t rewrite the story if I wanted to.

WATM: Now you did serve for a couple of years as a Naval Officer before going to the Spurs full time. As a veteran, what is your favorite memory of serving in the Navy?

Robinson: I think for me just seeing the dedication of folks from the day-to-day basis. I was a civil engineer. I worked down at Kings Bay, Georgia and just going in every day and working hard and seeing the commitment that our service members have to whatever job it is. I mean, I was building explosives, handling stuff for submarines and doing street lights for a new community… and just the professionalism and the energy that our service people take to do their jobs. I think that to me, that is what I enjoyed that more than anything. There’s just such a pride in working together and serving a cause bigger than yourself.

WATM: That’s pretty awesome. So back to the Army-Navy game, what is your prediction for this year’s game? 

Robinson: (Laughs) My prediction is pain… for Army! You know, Army has played so well the last few years, after many years of domination by Navy. So we got our backs against the wall now, and Navy needs to really step it up and defend our honor this year. So, I think we can do it.

WATM: Do you have any Army buddies you make bets on the game with, so you have bragging rights on them? Is there anything in particular that you do for the game to spice up the rivalry a bit?

Robinson: Yes, well you know there, there are guys here locally that I don’t necessarily have bets with but we have spirited conversations. When I was at Navy, Army had a great basketball player named Kevin Houston, one of the top — I think he was the top scorer in the nation our senior year — but Kevin and I have known each other for many, many years and, and it’s always kind of a fun thing.

 You just end up thinking about how it means to us now as opposed to back then. There’s a lot of Army guys that yeah, I have great relationships with them and we just have fun with the game. 

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game
Kevin Houston playing for Army

WATM: We’re pretty excited about the game. It’s going to be a pretty unique because of COVID and everything. This year being at West Point are you hoping that one year, they go back to having it on campus or do you want to keep the neutral site location like how it normally is?

Robinson: Personally I like the neutral site. I think it’s just a game that is bigger than either school. I think it means something to the psyche of America. So I love, I love seeing it kind of on a big stage and being the big production that it generally is, I think that’s fantastic. You know this year is a little bit of a challenge, we’re obviously trying to make it much more accessible to everyone through ArmyNavyHouse.com so that people can still engage but I think all these, all these changes, all these little things here and there you know, add character to the rivalry into the series. But in the long run I’d love to just see a big stadium where the United States can celebrate it.

WATM: Now that we covered the Army-Navy game, we actually wrote an article about you back in April and one of the things we wanted to ask was about the charter school you started. We know you started a charter school in San Antonio toward the end of your playing career. How’s everything going with that especially during COVID. Is everything going okay? 

Robinson: Wow, well, thanks for asking. Yeah, we started the Carver Academy and we actually started as a private school back 20 years ago or so. We built in a low income area on the east side of San Antonio. We wanted to get as many kids college ready who were from low-income areas as possible. We joined up with the charter school group, I don’t know about eight years ago. We’ve been able to grow it incredibly well. Now we’ve got something like 26 schools here in San Antonio and got nearly a hundred schools across Texas and Louisiana. And it’s been amazing with the charter school system in the country. It’s called IDEA public schools and so we’re very excited about it.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game
Robinson with kids from the Carver Academy

COVID threw around a little bit of wrench for all of education but, you know, from our standpoint, we’re able to focus on getting WiFi access to our families. We’ve opened up the schools, we made sure there was plexiglass up and the kids had an opportunity to be safe. Very few of the kids came back at the beginning but maybe about 25 percent or more are in the schools now, and hopefully we’ll get that back up to a good number soon because with kids from low-income areas, getting them into the classroom is going to be the best way they learn.

###

USAA proudly supports the 121st Army-Navy Game as the presenting sponsor of the storied rivalry between the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.

“America’s Game” will be played on the campus at West Point for the first time since 1943 in front of a crowd of Army Cadets and Navy Midshipmen.

Kickoff is set for Saturday, December 12th at 3:00pm EST on CBS.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Here are 7 steps to six-pack abs

Let’s be real: Six-pack abs are a pretty dumb fitness goal. First and foremost, having a stomach that has ridges is not a barometer of health. In fact, in many ways it is quite the opposite. To have six-pack abs you need to have somewhere around the order of 6% body fat. Sounds good, right? Not exactly. Extremely low body fat (that’s below 5%) can put a strain on the system, causing testosterone to drop, the immune system to struggle, brain fog, splotchy skin… the list goes on. In other words, this is a vanity goal.

So you still want to give one a go? We get it, that six-pack is aesthetically pleasing and make anyone look damn good in a swimsuit. But be prepared to work for it. There is a very high bar you’ll need to hit repeatedly for workout dedication and dietary discipline.


So the first step to a six-pack is watching what you eat, and sticking to lean meats, vegetables, and cutting out all sweets and most carbs. The second step is committing to an intense ab-focused strength-training routine — not the twice a week deal you do now, but three to four times a week, with determination and focus — to see your abs transform themselves. The good news: Many of the moves don’t require machines or extra weights, so you can do them in the convenience of your own home.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Alora Griffiths)

The final ingredient to building your six-pack is a solid dose of daily cardio. Developing your overall fitness will help train your body to use energy more efficiently, and teach it to start torching calories the minute you begin to move. And that’s key because you can have the strongest abdominals in the world, but if they’re covered with a layer of fat, you’ll never see them.

Follow this 7-point checklist to take your six-pack fantasy one step closer to reality.

1. Eat less fat, and more protein.

Protein helps your body build muscle and recover from tough workouts. It also has the highest thermogenic property of the various food categories (carbs, fat, etc), meaning pound per pound it requires more energy to burn, helping you lose weight faster.

2. Count your calories.

Yes, your meals should be filled with high-quality nutrients and low on processed crap. But at some point, a calorie is a calorie, and to lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you expend. The average guy needs about 2,500 calories to maintain his weight. Shoot for 200 less than that a day to help hit your target safely. (For easy reference, that means cutting out the bowl of chips before dinner, or skipping dessert.)

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Chris Lawton)

3. Pick exercises that hit multiple muscle groups.

Crunches and sit-ups have their place, but exercises that involve multiple muscle groups give you more bang for your buck. Two of the best ones, which should be performed to the point of temporary muscle failure (i.e., you cannot do another rep), are planks and reverse crunches.

Plank: Start lying face-down on the floor, torso propped up on your elbows. Engaging your core, raise your body up onto your forearms and toes, making sure your body forms one long line from shoulders to feet. Hold this position as long as you can, working your way up to 90 seconds.

Reverse crunches: Lie on the floor on your back, knees bent at 90 degree, feet raised several inches off the ground. Contract your abs and hike hips off the floor, keeping your spine rounded. Raise knees high toward the ceiling. Relax and repeat as many times as you can.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by Julia Ballew)

4. Make your cardio workouts more intense (and shorter).

Cardio is an essential component to getting your six-pack, because it speeds up the weight-loss process. Despite what you’ve probably read about moderate intensity cardio being the best method for burning fat (which is true), the fastest way to achieve overall calorie burn is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which goes like this: 60 seconds of biking, rowing or sprinting as hard as you can, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat 10 times.

5. Hanging leg raises. 

Don’t be fooled by its name — hanging leg raises are one of the best abdominal workouts you can do. The move works those deep, lower abdominal muscles that basic exercises like crunches miss. Start by hanging from a bar, legs straight. Engage your core and raise both legs straight in front of you (if this is your first time, it’s likely you will not be able to lift them very high — that’s OK). Repeat until failure.

6. Prioritize hydration.

It’s true, all the water in the world isn’t going to make your abs pop overnight. But it’s also true that drinking at least 8 glasses of water (or other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages) a day helps boost your energy levels so you can commit to your next workout. It also helps prevent water retention, which can give your gut a bloated appearance.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(Photo by henri meilhac)

7. Vary your routine.

Even though you’ll need to do some ab-specific exercises along with general strength and cardio work, you’ll see better results if you alternate the moves you do, as each one works the abdominals in a slightly different way. A few to add to your repertoire:

Pronated Leg Raises: Lie flat on your back, legs straight, hand tucked beneath your lower spine for support. Engage your abs and raise legs to about 45 degrees. Lower. Do 10 times.

V-Hold: Sit on floor, knees bent, hand tucked under your knees. Engage your core and slowly raise your feet off the floor several inches. Once you find your balance, extend your legs in front of you, creating a V-shape with your body. Hold 60 seconds.

Bicycle: This favorite of aerobic classes everywhere gets your heart rate up with working your obliques. Start on your back, knees bent, hands behind your head. Raise your head and feet off the floor and begin cycling your legs back and forth as it you re riding a bike. Bring opposite elbow to knee as you go. Do 60 seconds, rest 20 seconds, and go again.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

After Action Report #4: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

Stats? Projections? F$%k that noise. Numbers can’t guarantee wins, but being as tough as nails sure helps. As the 2018 NFL Season enters its third week and fantasy football fans continue to debate advanced metrics, the veterans at We Are The Mighty are taking a different approach to finding the best players across the league.

This week, our team of self-declared fair-weather fans scouted the NFL to find the players worthy of serving on one the military’s most elite units: the Army Special Forces — Operational Detachment Alpha, known exclusively as the “A-Team.”

A Special Forces team is full of quiet professionals, each of whom has a set of unique, special skills, ranging from demolitions to weapons to communications. Earning your place on a Special Forces team takes training, time, and a little luck, but it ultimately comes down to one simple question: Can you perform under pressure?


This results-based mentality is exactly the same approach used by NFL players across the league and, in the season’s opening week, five players have distinguished themselves worthy of making the inaugural “A Team Report.” Some earned this distinguished honor by breaking records while others made the list via sheer, viking-level badassery. Either way, all the players on this week’s A-Team Report stepped up when it mattered.

Here are this week’s picks:

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(National Football League)

Quarterback C.J. Beathard — San Francisco 49ers

QB C.J. Beathard executes a clean, strategic fake for a touchdown.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(National Football League)

Tight End Vance McDonald — Pittsburgh Steelers

TE Vance McDonald smashes through the defense, staying on his feet as he drags the opponent with him.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(National Football League)

Running Back Royce Freeman — Denver Broncos

RB Royce Freeman holds not a second too long before exploding through to the endzone.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(National Football League)

Tight End Trey Burton — Chicago Bears

TE Trey Burton slides into the endzone on his knees for the first touchdown of the game.

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

(National Football League)

Wide Receiver Michael Gallup — Dallas Cowboys

Rookie WR Michael Gallup goes flying, but holds onto the ball to make the catch for a 30+ yard gain.

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