|The four Person brothers to play at Navy, L to R -- Andy, Chris, Dan and Joe|
The Persons . . . First Family of City Football
Please enjoy reading some information
on the Persons,
The definition of college football parents . . .
Bill and Suzanne Person, from Havertown, Pennsylvania are the definition of true college football parents. They are the parents of six sons and one daughter: Andy, Chris, Brian, Dan, Fran, Joe, and Anne Marie, all of whom played division 1 college football (except for Anne Marie, of course, who plays college women’s lacrosse).
In 1992, they sat for the first time in the parents section of a Navy Football game at the U.S. Naval Academy, rooting for their oldest son, Andy, as a Navy football defensive end.
After 15 consecutive years, 169 Navy Football games, 55 University of Pennsylvania football games, 57 University of South Carolina Gamecock football games, 7 bowl rings, and 2 Ivy League championships, their streak of sitting in the parents section of a Division 1 football game will come to an end.
On December 30, 2006, their youngest son’s career will come to a close when Navy Football plays in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The Person family began a trend of notable Division 1 football players from Episcopal Academy High School in Merion, Pennsylvania:
Andy Person, Defensive End, Navy Football (1992-1996)
Chris Person, Defensive End, Navy Football (1994-1998)
Brian Person, Defensive End, University of Pennsylvania Football (1997-2002)
Dan Person, Defensive End, Navy Football (1999-2003)
Fran Person, Offensive Line, University of South Carolina Football (2001-2005)
Joe Person, Offensive Line, Navy Football (2003-2007)
In addition…the only daughter who had to put up with all of her older brothers
Anne Marie Person, Women’s Lacrosse, American University (2005 - Present)
How do you sum this experience all up? An email from mom to her family:
Sent: Monday, November 20, 2006 8:11 AM
Subject: Joseph was great
On Saturday we went out onto the football field as parents of a senior player for the sixth and last time. The feeling was over-the-moon and I wanted to share it with you all. Joseph has two more games in his fabulous career (Army/Navy and a bowl game in N Carolina on dad’s birthday). We have enjoyed the ride and want to thank you all for the wonderful experiences you have given us.
Are we all tired of football yet? Nope not on your life.
Ps. GO NAVY BEAT ARMY
Where are they now?
Since their football days, the Person boys who have graduated college moved on to careers in government, education, and business. Andy served in the U.S. Navy as an officer for seven years and moved on to a career in higher education where he is currently the assistant to the president at the State University of New York Maritime College. Chris served for five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and moved onto a corporate position with the Stryker medical corporation. Brian graduated from the Wharton School of Business and works as a trader for a financial firm in Wayne, PA. Dan became a U.S. Navy helicopter pilot and is currently serving our country on deployment in the Persian Gulf onboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER. Fran graduated from University of South Carolina and works on the staff of U.S. Senator Joseph Biden in Washington DC. Joe and Anne Marie are still in school working towards their college graduation.
Army/Navy game memories (of Andy Person):
As far as the Army / Navy game goes, it was one of the greatest thrills of my life. The fact that it was in our own backyard growing up was icing on the cake. Every once in a while I still have dreams at night where I am getting ready for the Army/Navy game. Then I wake up and realize that I am 33 years old and over the football hill.
On a larger perspective, I believe the game symbolizes the best of what college football was meant to be – sportsmanship, mutual respect and competition. Everyone is playing for a higher purpose. There are no selfish, all-about-me, T.O.-style egos. Just plain football.
The fact that we represent our country’s armed forces as a Naval Academy or West Point player puts everything into perspective. I will always remember the Naval Academy and Army/Navy experience as the greatest leadership development opportunity of my life. I am a better person and a better leader because of this experience and I feel truly blessed.
Story by free-lancer Joe Santoliquito that appeared in the Dec. 2 Daily News . . .
JOE PERSON will try to inhale the moment one last time today. He'll spot his parents, Bill and Suzanne, in the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field, knowing that somewhere else older brothers Andy, Chris and Dan are watching the TV eagerly for any glimpse of that familiar No. 76 making a play or a block downfield.
Joe Person is the last of a unique legacy. He and his three older brothers are believed to be the only four brothers to ever play for Navy at one time or another in the Army-Navy game, the latest of which is today at 2:30 p.m.
Joe, a 6-4, 265-pound senior right offensive tackle, is actually the youngest of six boys, raised in Havertown, and the sixth of Bill and Suzanne Person's seven children, all products of Episcopal Academy.
At Navy, Joe follows Andy, the most accomplished of the brothers, who played for Navy from 1992-96; Chris, who played from 1994-98; and Dan, who arrived in 1999 and graduated in 2003. Each of Joe's older brothers played defensive end. Joe calls himself the black sheep, as an offensive lineman.
The Person brothers carry is a unique bond, a brotherhood within the greater brotherhood of the U.S. Naval Academy, and Navy football.
"We are a Navy family. My older brothers were like gods to me, watching them play in Army-Navy games since I was in fourth grade. Now it's my turn," said Joe, 22, who started last year as a junior, but will see considerable time off the bench today after being hampered by chronic injuries to his right shoulder and right knee this season.
"The way I see it, I'm fortunate my brothers get to relive their Army-Navy games through me," Joe continued. "It still sticks with my brother Andy that, to this day, he never won an Army-Navy game. It stays with him and all of us. Chris and Dan both beat Army. I never lost to Army. It's something I keep in mind, because I play for my brothers here at Navy and my brothers. Growing up in a big family is like the atmosphere of Navy football. It is a brotherhood, a real brotherhood. That's part of the reason why I came here."
Halfway around the world, watching at around 11:30 tonight, Dan, 26, will peer nervously at the TV screen in one of the squadron ready rooms on the USS Eisenhower, deployed in the Persian Gulf. He is a helicopter pilot, the father of 5-month old twins.
One of Dan's enduring memories of the game was watching Andy walk off the field the final time after yet another heart-wrenching loss to Army, tossing his helmet in the air out of frustration.
"My eyes were on Andy the whole time, like my eyes will be on Joe," Dan said from the Eisenhower. "I'll admit, I'll be nervous watching the game. I'll try to watch every single play, looking for that 76 on the field. But we've been to so many games, and played in so many games, I never really thought about us being part of a legacy at Navy.
"I'll tell you one thing, and it's something I told Joe: You appreciate playing in the game and playing Navy football a lot more after you're done than when you're actually in the game. It's the last time for everything. The last practice, the last time you'll put on the pads. The last time you play football. But of course, Joe's been a little spoiled, because they're going to a bowl game."
Navy (8-3) will play Maryland in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 30.
Appearing in bowl games was a luxury never experienced by Andy, 33, an assistant to the president at the State University of New York Maritime College, in Bronx, N.Y. A 4-year starter at Navy, which leads the Army-Navy series 50-49-7, Andy was MVP of the 1995 team. He still holds Navy career records for sacks (22) and tackles for losses (44). But Andy never got a victory over Army, losing all four games by six points total: 25-24 in '92, 16-14 in '93, 22-20 in '94 and 14-13 in '95.
Andy, who has five children and won't be able to see the game in person this year, is grateful for Joe, Dan and Chris.
"Because they won," Andy said, laughing. "I lost all 4 years against Army, a few coming in the last seconds. If not for my brothers beating Army, that would still bother me to this day. Joe watched me as a kid, and the funny thing is, I'm living through Joe now. Watching him helps me remember how much fun playing in the Army-Navy game was."
Chris, 32, lives in Chicago and won't make it to the game; he is snowed in with a 4-month-old and a 2-year old. But Chris did promise Joe he'd try to make it to the bowl game. He says the uncommon bond Navy and Army players have comes from the commonality of their training.
"That's where that brotherhood is forged in military academies," Chris said. "It's a compilation of training, academics and football you go through, and you're always together, no vacation during the summer, no long holidays. You're with these guys all of the time, so it is like an extended family.
"I don't think any other Division I college football player in the country goes through what we do."
Joe's brother Brian (who played at Penn) also will watch on TV. He is expecting the birth of his second child any day now.
Fran (who played at South Carolina under Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier) will be there with his parents.
Bill and Suzanne will sit in the parents' section, watching the last of their boys play in the family's final Army-Navy game. Suzanne will wear her American flag pin, and Bill will don his headset and binoculars.
"One thing you don't do is talk to my dad during an Army-Navy game," Joe warned with a laugh.
"Me and my brothers all served, but the real heroes, if you think about it, are my parents," Andy said. "Seven kids and they never missed a thing. A luncheon honoring any of us, the 8 million games and events they went to and missed nothing. I have trouble keeping up with five kids. They had seven and were always there."
Starting with Andy, it's been a 16-year process. A tradition ends today. Bill's focus will be on the field, but his heart might be elsewhere.
"We went through it when Navy played Temple, because it was Joe's last game as a senior at Navy," Bill acknowledged. "This last Army-Navy game will absolutely be emotional. It will be the end of a long line of our kids playing, starting with Andy, when he went to the Naval Prep School in 1990. That's when we went to our first Army-Navy game.
"We're proud that our kids are able to make contributions to this country, but I'd be lying to say I wasn't worried about Dan. It does play on your mind. Dan is in a war zone, but he's more concerned with how Joe plays. It's typical of Navy football, always concerned about someone else. Now, it's Joe's day. All my sons will be watching the game somewhere. There will be pride and sadness that it's over, but we're all grateful for the experience."