By Steve Adams
Fox NFL Sunday continued its long-standing tradition of paying tribute to veterans by broadcasting from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis this past Sunday in honor of Veterans Day.
The pregame show has saluted the troops from a variety of military installations over the years, including the Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego (2020), West Point (2019), Fort Benning (2018, 2014), Naval Station Norfolk (2017), Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (2015), Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan (2009), and the USS Harry S. Truman in the Mediterranean Sea (2000). But this was the very first time the program has come to Annapolis.
“We are honored that the Fox Sports NFL Sunday team chose to highlight the U.S. Naval Academy this year during their annual salute to veterans pregame show,” said Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck in a statement. “Not only is it a chance for the Brigade of Midshipmen to have a lot of fun on set with some football legends, but it’s an opportunity for the American public to learn about their United States Naval Academy during the show.”
“My first Fox NFL Veterans Day show was 20 years ago on the deck of the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier,” added Fox Sports EVP of Production Bill Richards. “I have great memories of working with the U.S. Navy. In addition, all the military academies add an electric level of energy … throw in Annapolis with all of its history and scenic waterways, and you have all of the ingredients for some very special television.”
And special television it was.
With Bancroft Hall, “the largest dormitory in the world,” serving as their backdrop, hosts Terry Bradshaw, Curt Menefee, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, and Jimmy Johnson delivered a full day of coverage including a two-hour pregame show, halftime coverage of the afternoon NFL games, and The OT, the network’s postgame wrap-up show.
The pregame show highlighted many elements of the Academy, focusing on its students’ experience on the Yard, on the water, and, after graduation, in service.
Segments included looks at:
- A day in the life of a midshipman, the USNA Sponsor Program, and the USNA Business Services Division, which provides over 50,000 haircuts, washes 1.5 million pounds of clothing, repairs 3,000+ pairs of shoes, and tailors 160,000+ pieces of clothing each year.
- The Navy Offshore Sailing team, which hosted Johnson and Menefee for a ride on the Severn River, and the Navy Crew Team, which hosted Long and Strahan for a competitive race on College Creek.
- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who graduated from Annapolis High and whose father, Steve, taught and coached football at the Academy.
- The Naval Academy’s founding and 176-year-old history, the National Medal of Honor Museum, and the story of “Brothers in Arms” Travis Manion and Brendan Looney, who graduated from the Academy in 2004 and were killed in Iraq in 2007 and Afghanistan in 2010, respectively.
Fox sports reporter Jay Glazer was complimentary of the city after filing multiple reports from the U.S. Navy Sailing Center. “Annapolis is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been,” Glazer, who also enjoyed some combat training while on campus, told CBM Bay Weekly. “I’ve loved every minute of our time here.”
The only coverage complaint? As Menefee pointed out just before the day’s end—Navy mascot Bill is not a ram, as multiple members of the cast called him throughout the day, but a goat.