Nicole Yang Boston.com Staff,December 26, 2019, 7:50 p.m.
FOXBOROUGH — Navy football players were treated to quite the surprise on Thursday.
Waiting for them on a runway at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport was one of the Patriots’ charter planes, ready to fly the team to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl. The Naval Academy was able to procure New England’s customized Boeing 767 because the Patriots’ regular-season finale on Sunday is a home game.
“The Naval Academy Athletic Association contracted the plane with Team 125, who is the operator of the plane for the Patriots,” said Navy’s senior associate athletic director, Scott Strasemeier, in an e-mailed statement. “The NAAA and the New England Patriots have a longstanding relationship, which certainly did not hurt our ability to work out an agreement with the Patriots. We are extremely grateful for the support and the cooperation we received from Mr. [Robert] Kraft and his staff.”
Coach Bill Belichick, who grew up in Annapolis, Md., is a longtime supporter of the Naval Academy. His late father, Steve, served in World War II before becoming a scout for the Navy football team — a post he held for more than 30 years.
Navy will take on Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31.