Navy's Calvin Cass Jr. calls the service academy link to his father "an interesting dynamic in the family," and that could be considered an understatement.
Cass, a junior slotback and return man for the Midshipmen from Sicklerville in Camden County, is the son of Calvin Cass Sr., a three-year starter at running back who played at Army from 1987 through 1990. When he saw his son play in his first Army-Navy game last year in Baltimore, the elder Cass wore neutral colors.
Now with the 116th Army-Navy game coming up Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field, there is some friendly banter going on, and some meaningful conversation as well.
"We've talked basically about his Army-Navy games and what they were like for him, the pageantry of the game and everything that goes on around it," Calvin Cass Jr. said. "We talk about the streak for us and how they were winning when he was there, the similarities and the differences. It's pretty fun."
"The streak" for Navy stands at 13 consecutive wins. For the Cass family, "there's a little rivalry going on because he went 3-1 in his Army-Navy games. So honestly I'm trying to one-up him and go 4-0," Calvin Cass Jr. said.
Calvin Cass Sr., who ranks 25th on Army's all-time rushing list with 1,546 yards, enjoys the verbal exchange as much as anyone, and he takes some good-natured ribbing from friends who wonder how he feels about his son's playing for Navy. Seriously, however, there is no question where his loyalties will lie Saturday.
"The thing is, at the end of my day, I support my son," he said. "I love my son, and blood is thicker than anything. So I will support him for the next two years. We do banter back and forth, but ultimately I want to see him do well and his team do well.
"Once these two years are over with, we will have our family rivalry, and I'll be wearing my Army colors, he'll be wearing his Navy colors, and we'll have a bet on the game."
Calvin Cass Jr. enjoyed success in high school after being moved from wide receiver to running back at St. Augustine Prep. He rushed for 2,001 yards and scored 37 touchdowns as a senior, but his college options were limited mostly to FCS schools before he decided on Navy.
He said his father did not pressure him, other than to ask him to consider one of the service academies.
"He wanted me to make the decision for myself," he said. "He wanted me to know the benefits of wherever I chose to go. I guess he raised me in the same way he was raised. We ended up in the same place essentially."
Cass said he chose Navy because of head coach Ken Niumatalolo and his staff. And his father's reaction?
"He was honestly excited," he said.
Calvin Cass Sr. said, "I'm perfectly fine with it. I support him 100 percent."
When his family tailgates outside the Linc on Saturday, Calvin Cass Sr. will be in neutral colors again. And he will be asked his feelings about his son's playing for Navy. And his wife will cheer on Navy.
"She's no longer in the middle between me and my son," he said with a hearty laugh. "She's clearly on his side."