PHILADELPHIA — The wind off the river in the parking lot outside is just as cold as it was in Washington, but here it carries the aroma of grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. Although the crowd of cadets and midshipmen looks pretty filled in, civilian fans are still tailgating outside with about an hour left to go before kickoff; the stadium’s outdoor speakers were blasting Guns ‘n Roses’ “Paradise City” when we walked in. I haven’t seen any of Navy’s incendiary “beat Army” shirts yet here in the stadium, although I did see what the Army fans are wearing, and its slogan is so graphic I’m not sure if we can repeat it here on the blog. It’s clear, though, that Army has showed up angry and gunning for the widely favored Midshipmen.
If you ever get the chance to cover a sporting event from the press box of an NFL franchise venue like Lincoln Financial Field, I recommend it. Compared to the facilities at RFK where we covered the Eagle Bank Bowl last year, this is like being on a space ship — beautiful, unobstructed views of the field and the stands; four tiers’ worth of long desks with plenty of elbow room for hacks and radio types alike; and the obligatory Philadelphia cheese steak bar. Most important: the Linc’s press box is enclosed against the biting air outside. Last year, in RFK’s open-air press box, it became very difficult to continue banging away on a laptop after the first quarter, as your knuckles and finger tips went numb.
The Black Knights and the Midshipmen are warming up on the field, which is lit up like a stage in the winter afternoon sunlight. Stay with us as we keep counting down to the game and then look for total coverage once this thing gets started.