BOSTON (CBS) — Friday is usually the day where Bill Belichick is in his best mood, willing to go on and on (and on and on) about the minutia of special teams play when he steps to the podium at Gillette Stadium.
If you thought the Patriots head coach liked breaking down every aspect of the professional game, then you’ve never heard him gush about one of college football’s greatest traditions — the annual clash between Army and Navy.
The showdown between the Black Knights and the Midshipmen is near and dear to Belichick’s heart, with his father, Stephen, coaching Navy for over 40 years.
“When your dad coaches at Navy, that is a huge part of your life. That game is a huge part of the everybody’s life at those two academies, and it extends beyond that. You know in May how many days are left until you play Army,” Belichick said Friday.
Belichick said the 1959 Army-Navy game was the first football game he remembers watching — ever. He watched that one from home with a babysitter, he recalled with a smirk, mesmerized by Joe Bellino’s three-touchdown performance in a 43-12 victory for the Midshipmen.
After that year, he started attending the game in person. He looks back fondly at the 1962 showdown when Roger Staubach was under center for Navy, and recalls sitting behind John F. Kennedy at that game. He remembers something from just about every one of the historic clashes.
“Especially the ones that Navy won,” he said with a grin.
Belichick said he talks about the Army-Navy rivalry with ex-Navy long snapper and current Patriot Joe Cardona all the time. He’s not sure if he’ll be able to catch the game this weekend, with the Patriots set to travel to Miami on Saturday afternoon.
But if he gets some down time Saturday night in South Beach, you better believe that game will be on whatever screen he plants himself in front of.
Saturday’s Army-Navy showdown is on CBS/WBZ-TV, with coverage beginning at 3 p.m.