Navy football team flies to Liberty Bowl in Patriots plane

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The Navy football team on Thursday flew to Memphis, Tenn., to attend the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in the official airplane for the NFL’s New England Patriots.

Naval Academy Athletics shared a picture of the team traveling to the 61st Liberty Bowl “in STYLE,” snapping a photo of the red, white and blue plane used by the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Scott Strasemeier, the senior associate athletic director for the Naval Academy Athletic Association (NAAA), told The Hill that the plane was contracted by Team 125, which operates it for the NFL team. 

Strasemeier thanked Patriots owner Robert Kraft for the cooperation. 

“The NAAA and the New England Patriots have a longstanding relationship, which certainly did not hurt our ability to work out an agreement with the Patriots,” he said in a statement. “We are extremely grateful for the support and the cooperation we received from Mr. Kraft and his staff.”

The Hill has reached out to the Patriots for comment.

The Navy Midshipmen will face off against Kansas State University during the game, which will be televised on ESPN at 2:45 CST on Dec. 31.

The Navy’s 31-7 victory over the Army Black Knights earlier this month leaves them with a 10-2 record ahead of the Liberty Bowl.

The game made headlines when West Point cadets and Naval Academy midshipmen were accused of flashing a “white power” hand sign on television; however, military officials said Friday that an internal investigation found they were playing a prank popular among teenagers. 

The U.S. Naval Academy, which completed its own investigation into the hand gestures by two of its midshipmen, made a similar determination.

“The investigation found no evidence of racist intent,” Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said in a service statement.

“The Naval Academy is fully committed to preparing young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character, and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps,” he continued. “In this case, we recognize there is more work to be done.”

President Trump attended the Army-Navy game and announced an executive order that would allow athletes at the military academies to delay their service and go directly to the NFL after they graduate. Currently, players must first complete their service before they can pursue a professional playing career.

Tags College football Donald Trump Kansas State University Memphis Tennessee United States Naval Academy

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