They are the "games before the game."
Prior to the Army-Navy football teams squaring off on the gridiron on Saturday, they literally stepped up to a challenge.
Cadets and Midshipmen from West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy took part in the Patriot Games, a series of competitions in physical prowess.
The first event was a relay race on the famed "Rocky Steps" of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The cadets did a series of push ups and rapid jump roping before sprinting up the steps. One-by-one they took on the challenge to see who could finish first.
This weekend marks the 120th Army-Navy Game weekend. As supporters from both Army and Navy cheered on their respective branches at the relay, they also realized that there's something bigger than the competition itself.
In addition to the relay race, the Patriot Games also consisted of a Leadership Reaction Course at the National Constitution Center, a pull-up challenge and Pep Rally at Liberty Place, tug of war at Battleship New Jersey in Camden, and a Friday night gala at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
With people across the country set to watch Saturday's game, the Cadets and Midshipmen appreciate the support that America shows.
"It feels so good to be supported by so many people, and you really feel that when you're competing," said West Point Cadet Fourth Class Savannah Achenbach.
"You get to stand for something bigger than yourself. There's nothing better than that," said Naval Academy Midshipman Fourth Class Tyler Profio.
Lieutenant Eric Kettan, who played five seasons in the NFL, remembers the excitement he felt when he played in the Army-Navy games. He said what's even more special than the athletes' abilities is their commitment to their country.
"You are, technically, one in a million to raise your hand and serve the United States Navy and the Department of Defense," he said. "You are serving this nation."
Army-Navy rivalry comes to Philadelphia
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