It was a good weekend to be a fan of Navy football. For the second time in three years, the Midshipmen toppled the Black Knights.
Luckily for the Patriots resident Navy football fans, the team was enjoying their bye weekend, meaning the likes of Bill Belichick and Joe Cardona were able to fully enjoy the big game.
Cardona graduated from the Naval Academy in 2015 and hasn't been to an Army-Navy game since his playing days. Thanks to a well-timed bye weekend, Cardona was able to attend the game on Dec. 11.
Cardona talked about the significance of the game with WBZ's Dan Roche on Patriots First Down last week.
"This game is a special one for the school, a special one for the services as a whole," he. said. "I'm really excited to go out and support for the first time since I was playing in it."
While Cardona played in four wins over Army in his time, even before he stepped foot on the Naval Academy campus, he was all in for his team.
"I think that has been drilled into me. I'm a Navy fan through and through, grew up in a Navy household. I'll always support the Navy blue and gold, there is no doubt about that," Cardona said. "The first day, the first words you'll ever say is 'Go Navy, Beat Army.' If you don't know the answer to a question, you're never wrong if you say 'Beat Army.' You get used to it there and it becomes more of a lifestyle than anything.
That Navy fandom has only been supported since joining the Patriots. Coach Belichick has his own deep roots with the Naval Academy, where his father, Steve Belichick, spent 30 years as an assistant coach. On his weekly WEEI appearance, Coach Belichick said he enjoyed being able to enjoy this year's game.
"It is nice to be able to sit and watch that game. That was great, especially watching Navy win," Belichick said. "Sometimes we're traveling, if we have an away game we're on the plane or on the bus, so it's nice to be able to sit there and take it in and enjoy a Navy victory. That's always a good thing."
While Cardona and Coach Belichick made their allegiances clear, Cardona said while Army and Navy football teams are arch-rivals on the field, it's only for one day.
"They say friends for 364 days and enemies for one. There is nothing more true than that. I had friends at West Point who played football there, and I love those guys," Cardona said. "Hardest nosed people and the guys I want with me in any tough situation. But ultimately, on that Saturday in December, all bets are off."
With this in mind, it's no surprise that the Patriots organization as a whole supports local service members, their families and veterans, like through the Patriots Foundation's partnership with Food4Vets. During the NFL's Salute to Service initiative, Army and Navy were both represented well. U.S. Army Chief of Staff General James C. McConville and U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations Mike Gilday were invited to Gillette Stadium to conduct an enlistment ceremony for 50 New Englanders.
You can hear more about Coach Belichick's comments on the game and more below.