RE-AIR: Army vs Navy | NCAA Football | Ep 8

Army vs Navy – it is the “nation’s football game.”  At the end of each football season, there unfolds a pageantry that began in 1890..

The Oath

Each player took the same oath that brought him to this game.  Each has a mission far beyond football. When arriving at a military academy, each person takes one of these oaths:

United States Military Academy Oath of Allegiance (ARMY)

I, (Name), do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and bear true allegiance to the National Government; that I will maintain and defend the sovereignty of the United States, paramount to any and all allegiance, sovereignty, or fealty I may owe to any State or Country whatsoever; and that I will at all times obey the legal orders of my superior officers, and the Uniform
Code of Military Justice.

United States Naval Academy Oath of Office (NAVY)

HAVING BEEN APPOINTED A MIDSHIPMAN IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY, DO YOU SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) THAT YOU WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC; THAT YOU WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME; THAT YOU TAKE THIS OBLIGATION FREELY, WITHOUT ANY MENTAL RESERVATION OR PURPOSE OF EVASION; AND THAT YOU WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE THE DUTIES OF THE OFFICE ON WHICH YOU ARE ABOUT TO ENTER, SO HELP YOU GOD.

Not exactly a common oath one must take to play football somewhere. 

For this game, those sworn to the same mission are rivals for one glorious late Fall afternoon.

The Army-Navy football game has been played annually since 1930.  It has involved players who went on to sports careers as well as military service:  Glenn DavisRoger StaubachPete DawkinsNapoleon McCallumDoc Blanchard, and so many more.

Army vs Navy – The Game

Keegan Wetzel played for Navy and in his senior year was selected as a 1st Team All Independent linebacker.  He played in the 2012 game that saw Navy beat Army for the 11thconsecutive time.

Across the line from him for that game was Army quarterback Trent Steelman.  Steelman is the only modern era Army QB to start every game in his four years at West Point.  He holds the Army career record for TDs and is second all-time in career yards.  

It was a game decided in the final minutes when Navy took the lead and held on as Army saw a final drive end on a turnover.

Steelman and Wetzel could not know this game would lead to a relationship that endures.

What was the intensity playing in those Army vs Navy games?  How did playing in those games shape the lives of the players involved?  What are the memories of Wetzel and Steelman about facing each other?

Listen to the depth of feeling from these two as they answer those questions and breathe individual life into the rigors and honor of playing football at the academies.  

Rivals? Army vs Navy and THE GAME, as good as it gets.  Enjoy.

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others:

NHL | Robitaille vs Granato | Ep 31

NHL | Both were teammates and rivals of Wayne Gretzky. Both played on each coast. Both played with one of the Original Six in the NHL: the New York Rangers. Both helped grow the game of hockey in the west with the Los Angeles Kings.

The NHL Players

Luc Robitaille playing for the Kings

Luc Robitaille retired from the NHL as the highest scoring left wing in the league’s history. He was voted as one of the top hundred greatest players in the history of the NHL.

His name is on the Stanley Cup as a player with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002 and twice as a member of the Kings’ front office. He was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Luc is now the President of the Kings after having played in their jersey for 14 of his 19 years in the NHL.

Tony Granato as a Shark

Tony Granato was an all-rookie selection with the Rangers in 1989 when he set the Rangers’ rookie record for goals with 36. He played in the NHL from 1988-2001 with the Rangers, Kings and Sharks.

Tony went on to be an assistant coach with Pittsburgh, Detroit and Colorado before becoming the Avalanche head coach. He is now in his 5th season as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers, the home of his college hockey career.

Luc and Tony have long known one another on ice sheets across North America as rivals, teammates and friends. Here they take you through their intertwined careers: five as teammates and nine as rivals. They also share their experiences playing for an Original Six team and describe hockey’s growth out west as led by #99, “The Great One”, Wayne Gretzky.

Let’s drop the puck!

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others:

RE-AIR: ACC College Basketball | MD vs VT | Ep 7

ACC College Basketball | Would you really ask a college basketball player to throw up during a game if things were going bad, just to change the momentum?

What do you do when the water main breaks on campus when there is a big game to be played that day?  How about when the opposing coach has a suggestion of what to do and uses the water break as a rallying cry for his own team?

Fictional questions?  Well, no, they are part of what you are going to hear on this edition of The Sports Rivals.

The Coaches

Gary Williams is a Hall Of Fame college hoops coach who coached at American UniversityBoston CollegeOhio State and at his alma mater, Maryland.  It was with the Terps that he won the 2002 NCAA Championship and where he spent 22 years on the bench in the conference which many consider to the best in college basketball year in and year out, the ACC.

Seth Greenberg spent 34 years as a college coach, including 2003-2012 at Virginia Tech as a Gary Williams coaching rival in the ACC.  He came through Long Beach Stateand the University of South Florida on his way to Virginia Tech.  He would face Williams’ teams between 2003-2011.

ACC College Basketball

Virginia Tech was a late arrival to ACC College Basketball and Gary Williams was not all that excited about adding to the league, especially when Tech started winning games in the conference.  He’ll tell you how the Tech addition just made the season that much tougher.  

These two outstanding coaches give you an inside peak into the ACC and what it was like to face the best college teams in the country on a nightly basis.  

They will take you through their own rivalry that is a history of intense games, overtimes and an “I can beat you” attitude that came from both coaches.   Neither missed the opportunity to find a way to inspire their team by using actions or words coming from the other side. This was a rivalry of “whatever it takes.”

Seth will take you through the impact Williams had on his coaching decisions in putting the Virginia Tech program together.  Williams will tell you his thoughts as he prepared to take on a Greenberg team.  

From two ends of the court, here is a coaching rivalry that had vivid games, great memories and the creation of a relationship of respect in the college coaching ranks.

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others:

Arizona vs Stanford | NCAA Basketball | Ep 26

Arizona vs Stanford | When it comes to rivalries, those involved in college sports are often the most inspired.

Richard Jefferson and Casey Jacobsen were (and still are) part of such a rivalry. 

Arizona vs Stanford | The Players

Jefferson played college hoops at the University of Arizona from 1998-2001 under the late Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson

Casey Jacobsen at Stanford

Jacobsen played at Stanford from 1999-2001, for another Hall of Fame coach, Mike Montgomery.

For those years they played against each other, both teams were among the elite in the nation, battling to get to the Final Four and to win a National Championship.

Richard and Casey will let you in on their meeting at a Michael Jordan basketball camp and on how they might have been teammates in college but for Jacobsen’s final college decision. In addition, they discuss their feelings regarding their coaches and how each coach’s approach was so markedly different, yet effective.

Jacobsen and Jefferson went on to extended professional basketball careers and careers in the broadcast booth. Through all of the years the memories of their college experiences ring fresh.

Here now is the inside look at a rivalry on the hardwood from two who helped write its history.

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others:

For Love of the Game | Lyons vs Hudler | Ep 25

For the love of the game |The legend of golf, Ben Hogan, once said, “As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.” 

Our guests today have taken time to smell the roses and their walk down the fairway has been filled with life: a life in sports where each day was to be treasured.

The Major Leaguers

Steve Lyons spent nine seasons in MLB, playing for four teams in an 852-game career. He played every position, doing so once in the same game. He said, “I was never a great athlete or a great hitter. I was never supposed to make it to the big leagues.” He did and made the most of every moment.

Rex Hudler played 14 seasons in the majors for six teams. His 774 games played required the grit and no quit attitude just as was true for Lyons.

For the Love of the Game

There is a sheer joy that radiates from Hudler and Lyons as they relate their experiences as rivals and survivors in the majors. Around the game, one is known as “Psycho” and the other as “Bug Eater.” They earned the monikers and will tell you why.

They were referred to as “utility players.” What did that mean then and now to each of them?

There is much to smile about here, and much to admire.

They would both move on to share their joy of the game as broadcasters, but first they shared that joy with teammates and fans while in uniform. Here is their story.

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others:

Placekickers | Stenerud vs Benirschke | Ep 24

Placekickers | They both could kick a ball, but it was round, not oval. Before their careers were over, it was the oval football they kicked that made all the difference.

What a treat to listen to two of the NFL’s all-time great placekickers relate the unlikely roads they both took to become legends in the game.

The Placekickers

Jan Stenerud kicking for the Kansas City Chiefs

Jan Stenerud was on the field for the Chiefs, Packers and Vikings during a career that covered 1967-1985. He is the first pure placekicker to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Along with a Super Bowl win with the Chiefs and 4 Pro Bowls, he also transformed the placekicking game for all of football.

All of this coming almost by accident to a man who came from Norway to Montana State on a ski jumping scholarship.

Rolf Benirschke kicking for the San Diego Chargers

Rolf Benirschke was a placekicker for the San Diego Chargers from 1978-1986. He retired as the all-time leader in points for the Chargers, an NFL Man of the Year Award winner and a fan of Stenerud.

Listen to his story of the inadvertent chance to kick a football that leads to his time in the NFL.

They watched each other kick, they learned from each other and they competed at the highest level with a talent that brought with it real sport’s pressure.

Two exuberant men, two unlikely careers, and two joyful stories told in their own words.

Rolf walked to midfield with Louie Kelcher

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others:

1988 NLCS | Dodgers vs Mets | Ep 10 | RE-AIR

1988 NLCS

The 1988 NLCS was a tumultuous series between the LA Dodgers and NY Mets.

It went 7 games in the rain, sleet and hail and featured the likes of KIRK GIBSON, STEVE SAX, DOC GOODEN AND GARY CARTER.

This series also pitted the to be 1988 Cy Young Award winner, NLCS MVP and World Series MVP- Orel Hershiser– against a former NL MVP, two-time World Series Champion and arguably the game’s finest defensive first baseman ever-Keith Hernandez.

They are the guests on this podcast.

We are treated here to an inside look at this series the likes of which you will find nowhere else.

The Players

Hershiser will speak to the adrenaline gained for himself and the Dodgers from public comments made by Mets players during the series.

Hernandez will speak to one of those occasions on comments made by teammate pitcher David Cone and how he and the Mets felt when they read what Cone said.

Both players access what facing one another was like. Hershiser talks about his plan in pitching to one of the games toughest outs. Hernandez reflects on what he sat on as a hitter when facing Hershiser.

Orel and Keith will lead you through the unfolding of this series: the roller coaster ride, the turning points, a game 4 that turned a potential Mets win into an extra inning game on Dodger Mike Scioscia’s 9th inning home run off Gooden and a game winning 12th inning home run by Dodger Kirk Gibson.

Keith will describe what he calls the worst defensive play he ever made that occurred in this series and that he lives with today.

Orel describes what it took to pitch nearly half of the total innings thrown by Dodger pitchers in this series, including sneaking off to the bullpen, without manager Tommy Lasorda knowing, to earn a save.

The story of that series is magic enough, but the insight both of these players provide on what their mind sets were in this series and competing at the Major League level for their careers is beyond words.

The openness and honesty you will hear is so rare as to perhaps be unique. Enjoy.

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others:

1984 College World Series | Ep 23

1984 College World Series | In all of baseball, the College World Series, which began in 1947, is one of the pinnacle events for the sport.  

Only eight Division 1 teams survive a grueling playoff process to make it to Omaha to crown a national champion.

The Players

Jose Mota and Louie Medina made that journey in 1984, among a star-studded cast of players from around the country.  

Mota played for Cal State Fullerton and would leave Omaha as part of a national championship team.

Jose Mota

Louie Medina played for Arizona State, a highly favored team, with the likes of Barry Bonds and Oddibe McDowell as teammates.

1984 College World Series | The Semi Final Match Up

These two players faced each other in a semifinal game that saw Cal State Fullerton eliminate Arizona State 6-1. Fullerton would then go on to beat Texas for the title. 

What was the experience for Mota and Medina in Omaha? How did Cal State Fullerton prepare itself in a tournament where they were not favored to win? There were two different mental states for these teams entering the semifinal game and Mota and Medina lay that out for you.

Both players would go on to play professional baseball and stay involved in the game after their playing days: Mota in the broadcast booth and Medina in the front office of the KC Royals.  Both are forever conscious of the impact that 1984 College World Series had on their lives and they share those feelings here. 

The game may have been played in 1984, but the memories are vivid and emotionally charged. 

1984 College World Series highlights

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others:

1981 London Marathon | A Historical First | Ep 22

London Marathon | One minute you are strangers on the streets of London and the next you are united in sports forever and friends for a lifetime.

That is what happened for American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonsen at the 1981 London Marathon.

1981 London Marathon

These two marathoners had never met when the gun went off to start the first ever London Marathon. They ran together near the head of the pack for miles, neither able to gain distance on the other.

In the final stages of the race, a moment in sports history began when Beardsley turned to Simonsen and asked, “should we go in together.”

Not knowing if Simonsen had agreed to that, they raced on, stride for stride, towards the finish line where the answer became apparent. Hand in hand, they crossed the finish line as co-winners of London’s first marathon.

Never before, and most likely never again, will a marathon finish this way.

Here are Dick and Inge with the story of that race, in their own words. Why would two such competitive athletes who had trained so hard to win the marathon agree to do this while running the race?

What effect did this race have on their lives? Would they do it differently in hindsight?

Listen and enjoy.

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others:

Ironman World Championships | Iron War | Ep 21

“The Greatest Race Ever Run.”  “Iron War.”

Those are two of the descriptions of the 1989 Ironman World Championship, a race that changed the face of Ironman Triathlons from being not only an endurance test, but also a true race.

The men who created this historical moment are Dave Scott and Mark Allen.  

1989 Ironman World Championship

These two triathletes entered the 1989 event well aware of one another’s abilities, but could not possibly have foreseen that this race would pit them literally side by side for over 8 hours.  

On this podcast, Dave and Mark share with each other and you the physical strains, the mental emotions and the mind-boggling journey of two rivals through a triathlon that made history.  

It would be 15 subsequent years before the two could talk with one another about this race.  If you think the competitiveness dissipates with time, listen closely.

This is the story of two of the world’s finest athletes ever, in a race you could not script.  Most importantly, this is their story as personally related by the two who ARE the story and the rivals.  

Sign up for the fortnightly free newsletter from Dave Scott, 6-time Ironman World Champion covering a wide range of topics from health, aging, nutritional insights, training physiology, mobility, stretching and strength training  plus swimming, cycling and run biomechanics. 

Additionally, why not ask questions directly to Dave by going to https://davescottinc.com/.

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others: