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Life Here

January 4, 2022 By Bruce Bartels

Football is in the Air

Almost everyone has a favorite football team. It may be a college team or a pro team, or perhaps your great grandson’s high school team. Most of these teams have a mascot. Since I’m from Ohio, I’m an Ohio State fan and their mascot is a “buckeye.” Who knew a nut from a tree could be a mascot?

When I attended the Naval Academy, I was introduced to a goat named “Bill.” As many of you know, the Naval Academy mascot is a goat. Why, a goat, you may ask. The history goes back over 200 years when livestock were kept aboard ships to provide the sailors with food, milk, eggs, and, in some cases, pets. In 1893, 48 years after the founding of the Naval Academy, the first goat made his (they’re all males) appearance as a mascot at the fourth Army-Navy football game. The goat, named El Cid, helped Navy win that day and the goat mascot was there to stay. The first Army-Navy game of the 20th century brought out both teams’ traditional mascots. The Army mule made his first appearance at that game. Following the game, which Navy won, the goat was named Bill after the pet goat of the Commandant of Midshipmen at the time, Commander Colby Chester. The next year, a new goat, named Bill II, came aboard. Over the years the Navy mascot goat has become a legend. The Army cadets have kidnapped him on several occasions, often causing the two superintendents of the academies to call a truce so that Bill could be returned to his rightful place on the sidelines of the Navy football team. When he is not “on duty,” Bill lives on a farm near Annapolis. The current Bill XXXVI and his successor-in-waiting, Bill XXXVII, are both Angora goats with long hair and equally long twisted horns.

The two Bills brought success to this year’s Navy team when they met in December. As attendees of Paradise Valley Estates’ annual Army-Navy Game Party witnessed, the Navy Midshipmen upset the Army Black Knights, 17-13.

Image credit: USNA Public Affairs

Image credit: USNA Public Affairs

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