ANNAPOLIS – Cadets from the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point recently embarrassed every member of “The Long Gray Line” when they fumbled their attempt to steal the United States Naval Academy (USNA) mascot, Bill, the goat. The tradition of stealing mascots between Army and Navy has been a precursor to the Army v. Navy football game for decades.
After rumors surfaced this week that Cadets traveled to a farm near Annapolis, MD to steal the current mascot, Bill #37, from a pasture where he and the other retired mascots reside, the New York Times questioned both prestigious academies. Reports say that the less-than-stealthy Cadets entered the pasture and startled the goats who attempted to run away. Trying to regain their pride, the Cadets grabbed a goat and traveled back to West Point. When back in New York they learn that their hostage wasn’t Bill #37 but rather Bill #34, an old, one-horned goat that has been retired for 14 years.
The New York Times inquiry caused the two academies to issue a joint statement on Monday, denouncing the recent raid. The practice of kidnapping mascots from other service academies was forbidden by a 1992 formal agreement between all of the schools, after a USNA attempt to steal Army’s mule involved cutting phone lines and restraining several West Point employees.
The statement from Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, USMA Superintendent, and Vice Adm. Sean Buck of the USNA reiterated the 1992 agreement, saying that stealing animals was off-limits and that they were investigating the raid.
The leaders of the prestigious schools said they were “disappointed by the trust that was broken recently between our brothers and sisters in arms,” adding that the recent covert operation did not accurately reflect the core values or behavior demanded by the service academies.
The 2021 Army-Navy game is scheduled for December 11 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Army’s Black Knights are much more productive than their goat-stealing classmates with a current record of 7-3 while Navy’s Midshipmen are struggling to stay afloat with a record of 2-8.