Navy Football: Gridiron Legends and Fighting Heroes

Jack Clary, Author US Naval Institute Press $45 (328p) ISBN 978-1-55750-106-6
While football at the Naval Academy began in 1879, and therefore has a long and exceptional tradition, the fact that the team has had only one winning season in the last 15 may temper enthusiasm outside Annapolis for this history. The book could not be more thorough, featuring 220 photos--including some wonderful action shots and dozens of sidebars, most about individual players and coaches--and two chapters recapping all the Army-Navy games and the eight bowl contests in which the Academy has participated. There are all sorts of interesting tidbits of information: the first football coach was Edgar Allen Poe, nephew of the poet; Bill the Goat did not become established as the mascot until 1904, although he had several predecessors; Navy's only Heisman Trophy winners came just three years apart, Joe Bellino in 1960 and Roger Staubach in 1963; the squad's only undefeated season occurred in 1926, when they were the consensus national champions; the two best coaches, Eddie Erdelatz and Wayne Hardin, both ran afoul of the brass running the academy for being too independent; NFL star Phil McConkey graduated from Annapolis but did not know he had chronic seasickness until his first shipboard assignment; obviously many grid stars went on to become war heroes. But the fact still remains that Navy is no longer considered a top-rank team and thus is far less exciting to most fans than it was 40 years ago. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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