FAREWELL TO WEST POINT-ARMY!
With plans to attend at least two spring games in the northeast over the next few weeks, our upcoming NFL draft preview, and the constant tweaking of our Collegefootballfan.com 2017 football schedule as TV networks start announcing kickoff times, we first must bid farewell to West Point-Army football before next season starts. What do we mean by this?
If you follow us regularly during the season, you know we ran into (in reality, we were run into) a slight mishap up at West Point last season that could have turned out a lot worse. As far as we know, the possibility of someone getting seriously hurt still remains there, and Collegefootballfan.com refuses to bring any more busloads of happy tailgaters looking for a great time to an institution like the US Military Academy which blatantly refuses to recognize a safety issue that its fans are exposed to. Collegefootballfan.com says, “Farewell to West-Point Army Football!” Well see the Cadets play on the road, but we never intend to attend any more games at West Point. Over the years, we’ve been there about 30 times, during both very lean seasons for the Cadets and at one of the worst weather venues anywhere in the country despite the joke that Michie Stadium is listed as among one of the top sports destinations in the country. It’s certainly not among the safest. I can say that from first-hand experience.
For those of you who may have missed it, you can read up on it under our Game Review #523 from last November 5’when Brian Donnelly and I attended the Air Force-Army game won by the Falcons, 31-12. In a nutshell, before the game outside the northeast entrance of Michie Stadium after walking through Black Knights Alley, I got plowed over from behind by an unattended utility vehicle started up by preschoolers double-clutching before knocking me to the ground from behind. I got hit hard enough to break my binoculars slung over my shoulder, and I sustained deep cuts and abrasions on my right elbow, knee, and ankle. As I lay face down, the rear tires of the vehicle started to rip up along my right ankle bone starting to tear into my skin. It could have been worse, but luckily for me some camo-uniformed cadet or soldier stopped it as quickly as it had started. My mind jumped all over what was happening to me trying to figure which way to roll to avoid further injury as I felt a tire running up my right leg. The reality was, no matter which way I would have rolled, if the vehicle didn’t stop, I would probably have been seriously injured. This entire episode could have been worse if some frail senior citizen or some little preschoolerlike the ones who hi-jacked it got slammed into instead of a 5-10, 215 lb. adult male who works out regularly and stays in shape by walking almost daily. There were many young kids around with families, and with or without a parent, they could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time like I was. One of the kids on board hit the gas pedal hard to go from a complete stop to a high acceleration rate in reverse in a matter of seconds to belt me hard in the back leaving a large red mark under my right shoulder blade, basically a head shot to some little kid.
Accidents do happen. I was lucky. As I got up a bit stunned and confused to say the least, I was surrounded by young soldiers on duty at the game that weekend for security purposes. They took information, asked if I wanted an ambulance to take me to the hospital (I thought to myself that the game starts in about an hour), contacted their captain, and escorted me to the first aid station under the west side of Michie Stadium. There, I must have been asked five times if I was retired military, like that should make some kind of difference when I got run over by a utility vehicle at a football game. No. An army doctor checked me out, army medics checked my BP, etc. Some Army officer with no name badge and covered insignia came in to talk to me about what happened. We eventually BS-ed about the game, college football, Army-Navy, today’s game, my USNA affiliation, etc. A civilian EMT named Paul came in to bandage me up, and the army doctor gave me Motrin. The MPs gave me a number to call if I needed further assistance at the game, etc. Brian and I made it to our seats on time just before kick-off.
I was satisfied all was taken care of properly until a few days later when my right leg started to swell up. I figured it was an infection from the tire tread starting to tear into my ankle. The Neosporine they’ treated me with evidently wasn’t enough. I called my doctor for an appointment and told his office what had happened. Just in case, I called the Military Police station at West Point to request an accident report. The person I needed to contact had just left. I was told everyone was leaving for a long Veterans day weekend. I called back the following Monday. Long story, short: nobody knew anything about it. There was no record on any incident as such filed on November 6. No knowledge. The soldier I remembered with the name tag “Meaks” was on duty along with others from Ft. Drum. No report existed. In addition, I had received a survey from Army-West Point football asking me about my game day experience at the just attended Army-Air Force game. They always send these out to ticket buyers. I responded with a report about what had happened. I informed them that they have a dangerous situation there and that it needed to be reviewed. With all the security like IDs checked at main gates, metal detectors at the stadium entrances, and soldiers carrying automatic weapons around campus at Army football games, there has to be a film recording of this incident high above the entrance point into Michie where I got rear-ended mano against machine. I heard nothing back, not even a sorry.
I never heard anything since. No follow-ups from the West Point Police department. No response from the Army Ticket office survey. Three weeks ago though, I received a call from Army Football Group Sales who know me and I got to know them as I’ve arranged bus trips over the years with them to host groups for fundraisers at West Point including my 500th game celebration on November 21, 2015 when Rutgers beat Army, 31-21. I brought two full busloads for a memorable time, but I’m not planning any more events like this to West Point ever again as I don’t plan to risk having something happen to any of my friends after getting treated like this. I asked my contact at Group Sales, who is a good guy (he came to my seat to visit me at game # 500), if he’d ever heard about my response to the survey. Of course, he hadn’t. I told him what had happened. I told him that I was looking for nothing in return for myself. I needed to hear from somebody that new safety precautions had been put in place to prevent anyone else enjoying a Saturday at an Army game getting way-laid like I was. How about not leaving vehicles unattended? How about locking vehicles or not using self-starting vehicles in crowded areas. It doesn’t seem that difficult. Evidently what is difficult is admitting a mistake was made. Who knows? Maybe some generals kid working part-time left the vehicle unattended, or some officers kids were the ones who shouldn’t have been playing on the utility vehicle. No parent ever came by to apologize for what happened after I was whip-lashed to the ground.
I was told that Group Sales would look into this. Its been three weeks. I haven’t heard anything since. Army-West Point is interested in having me bring up busloads of 55 people, but evidently, they don’t care about the safety of their visiting fans. I’m not risking that knowing what I know now. Everything was swept under the carpet. Just like the cheating incident regarding the information passed on from the former coach/broadcaster from Wake Forest, Army West-Point is very hush-hush. This isn’t about national security. This is college football. They sure don’t demonstrate any integrity here when it comes to safeguarding football fans visiting their campus or reporting violations of any rules of intercollegiate athletics by their coaching staff. I’m certainly not financially supporting Army Football when it displays total disregard for safety or honest play. Farewell to Army-West Point football! I wish I could say its been fun.