FOXBORO, Mass. — Gillette Stadium lived up to the event.

Because that’s what America’s Game between Army and Navy is. It’s not just a college football game. Those who represent the two academies will be the first to tell you that. No, America’s Game is a spectacle. It’s an event. The pomp and circumstance that started some five hours before the 3 p.m. ET kickoff made for an experience that doesn’t come around often.

Jonathan Kraft said at Army-Navy Media Day last week that Patriots owner Robert Kraft long drooled over the Army-Navy game. When the Krafts bought the Patriots and built Gillette Stadium, events like Army-Navy were the ones they wanted to bring to Boston. Chet Gladchuk, currently in his 23rd year as the athletic director of the United States Naval Academy, said his talks with Kraft started more than 12 years ago.

Gillette Stadium should not have to wait that long for Army-Navy to return. It’s well-deserving of more Army-Navy events.

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All involved thoroughly enjoyed the experience. For some, it checked a box on their bucket list. And for others, it marked the yearly tradition they started because the love they have of their country.

Gillette Stadium added to the experience.

“It’s fantastic. The folks here, the Patriots organization, and just how welcoming they were,” Army head coach Jeff Monken said after the Black Knights earned a 17-11 victory over the Midshipmen. “It’s a beautiful stadium. Incredible American history here in this part of the country. This is the birthplace of our Revolution so to bring this game here is pretty special.

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“But frankly, we could have played it out in the parking lot with nobody out there and I promise you the two teams would have fought their asses off to win the game. Pardon my French. But that’s just the way these games are. We could have met halfway up the interstate and just said, ‘Let’s get it on right here.’ That’s what this game is. It’s going to be a a bloodbath street fight every time it’s played. Look at the game tonight.

“And so it doesn’t matter where we play it, it’s a great game. But this was really neat to be here. The great history of this organization and all the great victories, Super Bowl teams that have played in this stadium. It’s awesome.”

Army’s defense faced a fourth-and-goal from its own 2-yard line with seven seconds left. Their goal-line stand will serve as a signature moment in the rivalry’s history. Those on the field and the thousands of cadets in the stands certainly won’t forget it.

But that was just the game. It’s more than that.

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The “March On One,” when the Brigade of Midshipmen and the Corps of Cadets march onto the field in formation, for example. Then there were Navy Seals who parachuted onto the field pregame. And the flyover of both Army and Navy when their respective teams took the field.

“It was definitely an incredible experience out there,” Army senior captain Leo Lowin said. “They just welcomed us with open arms, rolled out the red carpet. And the way we have the hotel set up, it’s just been an awesome experience. And I know Army-Navy is a big deal for us players so having the red carpet rolled out for you, just the way people treat you here is an incredible thing. And the atmosphere tonight was awesome, obviously the win like that just makes it that much better.”

Gillette is not the first NFL stadium to host Army-Navy, of course. They’ve played the majority of their rivalry games in Philadelphia, including 14 times at Lincoln Financial Field. The Ravens’ stadium in Baltimore has hosted four and Yankee Stadium has even hosted a pair.

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Playing in those venues, much like Gillette Stadium, have added to the event.

“It’s a great experience for our players. Here’s a bunch of guys that, no knock on our guys, but I don’t have any five-star prospects that turned down USC and Ohio State to come to West Point,” Monken said. “These guys are like, they’re like everybody else. The first time they put the pads on when they were a little kid they dreamed of playing in a venue like this. In an atmosphere like this. So what an incredible experience for them to play in an NFL stadium. Those are lifetime memories they’ll have, which I’m glad for them. So this is a great place. And the people here have been been fantastic.”

America’s Game will continue its East Coast swing next year. Army-Navy is scheduled for FedEx Field in 2024, M&T Bank Stadium in 2025, MetLife Stadium in 2026 and Lincoln Financial Field in 2027.

Gillette Stadium should not be far down the list for 2028 and beyond. It’s a venue that deserves America’s Game.

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It deserves the Army-Navy event.

Featured image via Danny Wild/USA TODAY Sports Images