They played a football game yesterday in Baltimore that was what college football used to be before dot.com bowls and bloated TV contracts, before every major power became a corporate brand and paying the help became an issue only because everyone else was getting paid, and significantly.
Which is to say, I watched the Army-Navy game yesterday.
It's become a regular thing with me the way tuning into the Ivy League game of the week on some long-forgotten cable channel used to be years back: Because it reminded me what collegiate athletics are supposed to be about. Actual students play in those games; in the Army-Navy game, they are actual future generals and admirals. In other words, the Browns' first-round draft pick this April wasn't out there.
The men who were out there laid it all on the line the way, in a more serious fashion, they will soon be laying it on the line for their country. In a venture that has become almost solely mercenary in the places Alabama and Ohio State play football, I find that refreshing. I also find it the very embodiment of the sort of tradition that has always made college football miles better than the Sunday version.
And then again ... there is the also the fact that one of Army's players yesterday had the single most awesome athletic name ever.
He's a wide receiver. And his name, I pull your leg not, is Edgar Allan Poe.
It was a good day for Edgar Allan Poe, as it turned out. Army jumped off to a 14-0 lead and hung on to beat Navy 21-17. It was the first time the Black Knights of the Hudson (maybe the greatest nickname in college football, too) had beaten their archrivals in 14 years. The Corps of Cadets stormed the field, and corps and football team celebrated together as the light bled out of the short December day.
Night fell. The Knights, however, this time, did not.