Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 23 No. 18
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Closing Shot: Preparing For Battle

CBS announcer Brad Nessler reflects on the steps he took before calling his first Army-Navy game in 2017. With a rivalry that dates back to 1890, he found out quickly that when the Cadets and Midshipmen square off amid all the pageantry, this isn’t just another game.
Army and Navy contended with snow in 2017, with the Cadets winning 14-13. Army has won three consecutive games in the series with its rival.
Photo: getty images
Army and Navy contended with snow in 2017, with the Cadets winning 14-13. Army has won three consecutive games in the series with its rival.
Photo: getty images
Army and Navy contended with snow in 2017, with the Cadets winning 14-13. Army has won three consecutive games in the series with its rival.
Photo: getty images

The week before Brad Nessler called his first Army-Navy game in 2017 for CBS, he didn’t know what to expect, so he called Verne Lundquist for advice. Nessler knew it wouldn’t be a normal game for him. The service academies first started playing football in 1890, and unlike his typical SEC games, none of the players on either team were household names.

“That first game was the first time I’d been nervous before a game since I don’t know when,” Nessler said. “I wasn’t sure what I was in for.”

A week before the game, Nessler conducted more media interviews than usual, all asking the same question: What’s it going to be like to call your first Army-Navy game?

Nessler didn’t have a ready answer, so he asked the same question to Lundquist, who had called the previous eight Army-Navy games.

“You don’t know what it’s going to be like yet, but you will at game time,” Lundquist said. “Just use your instincts.”

The Tuesday before the game, Nessler, analyst Gary Danielson and sideline reporter Allie LaForce were in New York attending the National Football Foundation’s annual dinner. The next day, they traveled to West Point and spent all day with the Cadets, eating in the mess hall, watching practice and talking with players and coaches. On Thursday, they traveled to Annapolis and did the same things with the Midshipmen.

“By the time I got to Philly on Friday, I had a better idea of what to expect,” Nessler said.

When Nessler woke up on game day, he looked out of his hotel window and saw snow. More was in the forecast. Snowy football games make for great television, but this snowfall put a pit in Nessler’s stomach. Army was wearing its white-on-white uniforms that were especially difficult to see during a snowstorm.

“I couldn’t see the players — I could barely see the field — from the broadcast booth,” Nessler said. “Plus, it’s triple option football and all it says on the back of those white jerseys is ‘Army’ — no names or anything.

“The game was awesome once it got going. There were three passes the entire game, so the game flew by. I got emotional, and I don’t know why. I don’t know how many more of these I’ll do, but I’ll never forget that one.”

He can make more memories as the rivalry continues on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 3 p.m. ET on CBS. Nessler and Danielson again will call the action from Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field and will be joined by sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl.