Midshipmen to wear Blue Angels-inspired uniforms in Army-Navy game
By BILL WAGNER | The Capital (Tribune News Service) | Published: November 27, 2017
Annapolis residents know better than anyone that there is nothing more exciting than seeing the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron streak across the sky.
Naval Academy athletic officials are hoping the excitement generated by the sight of those dark blue and yellow F/A-18 Hornets translates to a football uniform.
Navy will wear uniforms inspired by the Blue Angels when it battles archrival Army on Dec. 9 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, academy athletic officials said Monday. This marks the 10th straight year the Midshipmen have specially designed uniforms for the Army-Navy game.
This year’s look features hand-painted helmets depicting a Delta Formation — with six Hornets in a tight grouping — along with a chrome facemask to mimic the visor of the Blue Angel pilots. The Under Armour design team also incorporated other special elements that pay tribute to the skill, precision and rich history of the Blue Angels squadron.
“Although the uniform departs from our customary characteristics, this tribute to the Blue Angels reflects the enthusiastic pride and appreciation we have for the Navy’s premier flying team and the motivation they convey to Navy football and the fleet at large,” Naval Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said.
Other design details for this year’s Army-Navy game uniform include:
- U.S. flag on left sleeve matches the flight suits that the squadron wear in the cockpit.
- The number font is inspired by the numbers on the tail of the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.
- Blue Angel insignia on the right sleeve is the same design on the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.
- The color of the uniforms is an exact match to the Blue Angels flight suit.
- Stripe dimensions on the pants are an exact match to the flight suit.
“This year we partnered with the Naval Academy to use the Army-Navy Game to honor the incredible pilots that make up the Blue Angels,” said Adam Clement, senior creative director of team sports for Under Armour.
“Anyone who has had the privilege of watching the Blue Angels perform knows there is no show quite like it. It inspires and excites all who stand witness and we couldn’t think of a better way to pay homage to their great feats than creating a uniform that pays tribute to them.”
This is the fifth year Under Armour has served as exclusive apparel provider for Navy athletics and the Baltimore-based company has gone to great lengths to make the Army-Navy game uniforms unique and provocative.
Last year, Navy wore “Beat Army” uniforms that featured a white and yellow color scheme. In 2015, the theme was “Navy Fleet” and the helmets contained different types of ships based on each player’s position. In 2014, the Midshipmen wore “Don’t Tread On Me” uniforms that featured the rattlesnake insignia and red stripes that mimicked those on a Marine Corps officer’s pants leg.
“Our partnership with the United States Naval Academy has afforded us the opportunity to tell some incredible stories through our specialty uniform designs and we hope, in some way, that the special moments we create on behalf of the academy manifest the gratitude we feel,” Clement said. “From the ‘Summer White’ design to the ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ uniforms, each opportunity leads down a path of research and information that drives us towards another special moment or achievement to celebrate.”
Greg Morgenthaler, Navy’s associate athletic director for equipment operations, works closely with Clement and other designers at Under Armour to create the specialty uniforms for the Army-Navy game. Morgenthaler said the “Blue Angels” design theme was agreed upon almost a year ago and ultimately approved by Gladchuk and other Naval Academy leaders.
“The masterminds at Under Armour are always thinking of ways to inspire our troops while still reflecting a deep appreciation for a Naval history that is so ingrained in our game day traditions,” Gladchuk said. “Annually, a special Navy uniform has become a statement in this game and brings with it appreciated meaning and a clear message that we are all in.”
Nike was the apparel provider when the Midshipmen first started wearing specially-designed uniforms for the Army-Navy game in 2008. Under Armour continued the new tradition when it secured the Naval Academy contract and has created some memorable designs.
Morgenthaler said the Blue Angels theme has been discussed many times in the past and that detailed artwork depicting how the uniforms would look was first reviewed years ago.
“This was an idea that we have been holding in our back pocket for years,” Morgenthaler said. “We have paid tribute to the Marine Corps and the Navy surface warfare fleet in the past. This year, we decided to honor Naval fighter pilots by telling the Blue Angels story.”
Morgenthaler said the most eye-catching aspects of this year’s uniform are the jersey numbers that replicate the tail number of an F/A-18 Hornet, the Blue Angel insignia that is identical to those on the flight suits worn by pilots and the face masks that mimic a flight helmet visor.
Every element of the 2017 Army-Navy football uniform contains the official Blue Angels colors, which are “Graphite Blue” and “Steeltown Gold.”
“I thought Under Armour did a tremendous job of matching the color, which is not easy,” said Morgenthaler, who revealed that a theme for next year’s Army-Navy uniforms has already been determined and a particular design has been approved.
Army West Point has traditionally worn specialty uniforms for the rivalry game as well. Nike serves as apparel provider for the United States Military Academy and has not announced what type of uniforms the Black Knights will wear for this year’s Army-Navy game.
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