"The Fumble…" 2010 Army – Navy Game. Philadelphia, PA. 11•Dec.•10

Navy safety Wyatt Middleton (#8, left) recovers Army quarterback Trent Steelman’s fumble at the 2 – yard line in the second quarter of the 111th. Army – Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA on Saturday, December 11, 2010. Middleton ran for a 98 – yard touchdown on the play and was named the game’s MVP. Navy defeated Army 31 -17. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

I’ve photographed a lot of great or “special” moments in my career, particularly in covering sporting assignments. Everybody from Michael Jordan & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Muhammad Ali signing autographs and HS basketball player Will Bouton’s miracle basket, a last-second, three point shot (on two cameras) to send his team to the state finals two years ago. But Saturday’s fumble by Army quarterback Trent Steelman (above) inside the Navy 5-yard line as Army was driving in the closing minutes of the first half, would be a play that I probably won’t forget for quite a long time. I think my eyes got as a big as Navy safety Wyatt Middleton’s when the ball was punched out of Steelman’s hands, as the Navy defense literally stood him up again and stopped him cold. First and foremost, this was my fourth Army – Navy game I’ve covered since joining this paper, as I’ve sort of become the unofficial “West Point beat photographer” for most events big and small, and just about every game or competition at the academy in all sports. It would be my third game down at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, home of the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL, and a ballpark I was becoming fairly familiar with. It was fitting that I’d be back on the natural grass field in South Philadelphia for this year’s traditional battle between the two service academies. (I’d missed covering the Army – Notre Dame game at Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago, due to a lower back injury) and thought that my coverage of the Army – Rutgers game in October would be my biggest thrill in covering Army football this year. Little did I know…

(Here’s how it all sort of shakes out for me…) Working the Army – Navy game has sort of become my World Series, Super Bowl and Mardi Gras all wrapped up into one. Well, maybe not the Mardi Gras part as I don’t get to participate in any of the pregame parties or formal balls in Center City, Philadelphia the night before the game, or of course get to tailgate hours before the game in the stadium parking lot. What I do get to do is worry. And sweat. And ache. My workday for the game usually begins with a 4:30AM wake-up, since I want to be on the road by 6AM for the 3 -/+ hour drive to Philadelphia. But all this is to be expected, especially since I’m already familiar with the logistics of the stadium, press parking, photographer’s field level workroom, etc. It’s good to get to the ballpark with plenty of time (approximately 5 hours) before kickoff and sort of decompress from the long drive, have a cup of coffee, set up my workspace to send test emails to the office & back to myself, and begin the routine of how I’m going to go about installing my overhead remote in a TV press box either in the end zone as in previous years or in a main press box overlooking midfield. All this of course requires riding the service elevators to the top concourse of the stadium, and climbing the stairs up to either press box. Covering this game is all about preparation for me, as evidenced by the overhead remote image I really enjoy making. It sort reinforces the idea and ideals that everything in my gear bag(s) have to be in working order. Not to mention the three trips I made to the top of the stadium to insure that the remote camera had made this image…

The West Point Corps of Cadets fill the field during the “March On” prior to the 111th. Army – Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA on Saturday, December 11, 2010. Navy defeated Army 31 – 17. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

All in all it was another exceptional experience to again photograph such an
important game between the two service academies. The weather never became a factor either, as most of us were able to work without gloves well into the second half as well. It was also good to see a few familiar faces in the photographer’s workroom and meet some new colleagues as well. ~cg.

Here’s a slideshow from my take on the game.

*(Use the arrow at the bottom left of the player or click the image to start the slideshow. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the credits button at lower right of the player. Pause the portfolio slideshow in the right column by clicking the “II” pause button.)

Click these links to view my previous year’s Army – Navy Game coverage in 2009 and 2008.

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