The Army-Navy game is one of college football's greatest traditions, and a tradition within that tradition is that it's always played at a neutral location. Red River has Dallas, the Cocktail Party has Jacksonville, and Army-Navy has Philly... and New York and Baltimore.
Of the 120 battles between the Black Knights and the Midshipmen, 89 have been in Philadelphia. Philly was the game's exclusive home from 1945 through 1982 and, after a one-year detour to the Rose Bowl in 1983, again from '84 through '88.
The game has remained in the City of Brotherly Love roughly three years out of every four since 1990. Army-Navy will make the occasional visit to Baltimore, DC or the New York area but Philly is its home base, and for good reason. It's a 125 miles north of Annapolis and 145 south of West Point, big enough to host the tens of thousands of people that flock to the game while also not so enormously huge as to get lost in the shuffle, i.e. New York.
And while Army-Navy was the one college football game never in danger of cancellation this fall, the pandemic has taken its toll here, too.
Army announced Friday that the 2020 game, slated for Dec. 12, will leave Philadelphia for West Point.
"We want to thank the City of Philadelphia, the Eagles and all involved in the planning for their efforts to navigate this historic game in the current COVID-19 climate," said Army AD Mike Buddie.
This will be the first Army-Navy game played on either academy's campus since 1943. (For the record, Army is the designated home team in even-numbered years, which is why the game will be in West Point and not Annapolis.)
The 1943 game, played as both academies were busy preparing officers for our nation's World War II effort, saw sixth-ranked Navy score a 13-0 defeat of No. 7 Army at Michie Stadium.
The 2021 game is scheduled for MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., as a remembrance of the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Army-Navy is not scheduled to return to its Philadelphia home until 2022, which will mark the first time the game has left Philadelphia for two consecutive years since a 3-year departure from 1942-44.
All in all, the game is still on and a one-year departure of tradition is the teeny, tiniest of prices to pay, if you even want to go that far. Naval Academy cadets might even consider themselves fortunate circumstances took them unplanned visit to "enemy" territory, assuming it's allowed.
But it's just one more reminder that, in 2020, even traditions that manage to continue still aren't quite the same.