Army vs. Navy…But Why is a Goat Involved?

Alan Budman /
Alan Budman /

There’s always a bit of play between sports teams when they go up against one another. When the Army and Navy football teams take to the field, it is no different. Well, maybe it’s a little different since we’re talking about the competitive nature of those within the military.

But…as they prepared for an upcoming game, a goat was involved.

The Army-Navy game meant that it was time to see the time-honored tradition happen yet again…stealing one another’s school mascots. The Army has a mule and the Navy have a goat. Do you see where this is going yet?

The goat has been the mascot of the Naval Academy since 1904, and every goat that has served in the capacity has been named “Bill.” As for West Point’s mascot of the mule, no name was ever bestowed.

The tradition of thievery has been going on for nearly seven decades. And, it was even banned in 1992 when there were a few overzealous Navy shipmen who decided they would cut phone lines and even zip-tie some of the Army personnel who were guarding the miles.

The Army was supposed to get in and get out with Bill undetected. However, they didn’t do so well.

The Army has always had the reputation of having some of the denser members of the military. In a previous attempt to get Bill, back in 1953, chloroform and a convertible were involved.

This time, however, they grabbed the wrong goat. Oh, sure, it was still a Bill, but one that had retired many years ago.

Apparently, the mission was to sneak up on Bill No. 37, as was the statement released to The New York Times. Only, as the joint statement read, “The noisy assault team spooked the goats into a run, though, and when the fumbling cadets gave chase, they managed to grab only one goat – and not the right one. After a four-hour drive back to West Point, they unveiled not Bill No. 37 but Bill No. 35, an arthritic, 14-year-old retiree with only one horn.”

Well, that explains why they were able to even get their hands on the goat.

As reported by the Military Times, Bill No. 35 was returned by “some rather sheepish Army officers.”

This was quite the oops…and when there are mishaps like this that make the news, it begs the question of whether the age-old tradition will finally come to an end. After all, it was supposed to end in 1992 but it still happens, albeit unsanctioned.

Will the military actually start to punish those who participate in the thievery? Imagine being the one tasked by your military officer to steal a goat…and then get kicked out of the military because of it.

At least Bill No. 35 was able to go on a bit of an adventure in his retirement years.

As for the outcome of the game, you can tune in on December 11. We should all be cheering for the Navy at this point. After all, if the Army cadets can’t even carry out a simple mission to steal a goat, do they really deserve a win on the field? And…what does their “noisy assault team” say about our ability to defend the country? Let’s hope they get a bit more training before having to put it to the test.