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Today's Tidbit... Before The Kelces Were The Borns
With the Kelce brothers opposing one another in Super Bowl LVII, we'll look this week at a few brother combinations that played a part in football’s history.
The Kelce brothers are getting some attention for playing one another in one of the bigger football games of the coming weekend, so it is worth recalling the battle between Arthur and Charles Born in the biggest game of the 1926 season, the Army-Navy game. Like the Kelces, the Born matchup received attention nationwide.
The Borns hailed from Racine, Wisconsin, and attended St. John's Military Academy for high school. Arthur was a year older and chose to attend the Naval Academy, where he worked his way into Navy's starting lineup as a senior guard. Charles took a different tack, opting for the Long Gray Line, starting at end as a sophomore and finishing his career as a 1927 second-team All-American. Their younger brother, Howard, played for Navy a few years later.
With both sons in starting roles, the Borns' parents were pleased the 1926 contest did not occur in the City of Brotherly Love but 75 miles south of home in Chicago's Municipal Grant Park Stadium. The stadium shed that name and was rededicated as Soldier Field during the pre-game ceremonies of the Army-Navy game.
One benefit of playing in the two-year-old stadium was that Chicago paid to transport and host every midshipman and cadet for the game, allowing the 110,000 attendees to enjoy the full Army-Navy game experience.
Navy entered the game 9-0, and Army was 7-1, having lost to Notre Dame 7-0 at Yankee Stadium two weeks earlier. So, everyone expected a big battle in the rivalry, sibling and otherwise.
Since the Borns played during the single-platoon era, they 'interacted' with one another in what proved to be a great game. Walter Eckersall, the Chicago All-American and Chicago Tribune reporter, umpired the game, giving himself an inside scoop on this column the next day. A well-played game with excellent blocking (per Eckersall), Navy scored first before giving up two Navy TDs, while Navy scored again in the second quarter to tie it up 14-14. The cadets retook the lead in the third quarter, but Navy returned fire in the fourth quarter to lock it up 21-21, and that is how the game ended. Six players scored touchdowns in the deadlocked game, and since neither brother scored, neither could claim the Born Supremacy.
A side note to the game was the presence of Knute Rockne in the press box. He apparently attended a Big Ten meeting the previous day and stayed in town while his 7-0-1 national championship-aspiring team played Carnegie Tech in Pittsburg. Without their coach, the Fighting Irish sank like a Rockne, losing to the Skibos, 19-0.
After graduation, both Borns became aviators. Arthur became a noted anti-submarine expert and served as executive officer of the U.S.S. Yorktown, the Essex-class carrier named after its namesake sunk at Midway. He retired as an Admiral.
Charles spent WWII in fighter command roles in the Caribbean and bomber command roles in Italy. After WWII, he transitioned into the Air Force, retiring as a Major General.
Surely, the Kelces’ upcoming game will not end in a tie, but we can hope the game remains close and the commercials are enjoyable.
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