One of the greatest stories in American sports history: how the 1944 Army team beat Navy, captured a championship, and inspired a nation at war.
“There never has been a sports event, perhaps never an event of any kind, that received the attention of so many Americans in so many places around the world.” So wrote a reporter on December 2, 1944, about the greatest Army-Navy football game in the long history of that storied rivalry. World War II raged; President Roosevelt was seriously ill, only a few months away from death; and Americans on the home front suffered through shortages—including, just days before the game, a Thanksgiving without turkey or pie. But for one day, all that was forgotten.
Army’s team was ranked number 1, Navy’s number 2. Army’s years of football misery had been lifted by a wartime team and a brilliant coach who made them a contender. If they beat Navy, they would be national champions. For a few short hours the war seemed to stop, as U.S. soldiers around the world tuned in to a broadcast of the game and turned their thoughts toward home.
Randy Roberts has interviewed surviving players and coaches for nearly a decade to bring to life one of the most memorable stories in all of American sports. For three years, Army football upperclassmen had graduated and joined the fight, from Normandy beaches to Pacific atolls. For three hours, their alma mater gave them back one unforgettable performance.