The coin flip in Saturday's Army-Navy game will be a special one, as the coin to be used is the same coin that John K. Kennedy was going to use in the flip before the 1963 contest.
Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, eight days before the Army-Navy game was scheduled to be played. There was talk of canceling the game, but Kennedy's family requested that the contest go on. After a week's delay, the game was played Dec. 7 in Philadelphia. This season's game also will be in Philadelphia.
The coin that was to be used by Kennedy was mailed to Navy linebacker Tom Lynch, a Midshipmen captain, a few days after the '63 game by Secretary of the Army Cyrus Vance. That coin will be flipped Saturday by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
The '63 game is one of the most memorable in a series rich with history. Navy was No. 2 in the polls and quarterback Roger Staubach already had won the Heisman Trophy. A victory over their archrival would garner the Midshipmen a bid to the Cotton Bowl, against top-ranked Texas.
Navy won 21-15, stopping Army on four plays inside Navy's 7-yard line in the final minute, including stuffing a fourth-and-2 run on the game's final play.
Texas beat Staubach and Navy 28-6 a few weeks later in the Cotton Bowl, and 1963 turned out to be the final season of true national relevance for service-academy football. Staubach was the second and last Heisman winner from Navy. Navy went to four major bowls between the 1954 and '63 seasons, but none since; in addition, the Midshipmen have been ranked in only one final poll since that '63 season, finishing 24th after a 10-2 season in 2004.
While Army has won three national titles (1944-46), it never has been to a major bowl; it has been in the final polls only once since '63, in 1996, when it was 25th after finishing 10-2.
Air Force lost in the Sugar Bowl following the 1970 season but was a two-loss team headed into the game and finished 16th in the final poll. A one-loss Falcons team did finish eighth in the final 1985 poll after it won the Bluebonnet Bowl over Texas. Air Force also was ranked in the final polls in 1983 (13th), 1991 (25th) and 1998 (13th).