Navy borrows Patriots plane for trip to bowl game

Darin Gantt

It might just be the Liberty Bowl, but the Navy football team was traveling like champions.

Via Ava Wallace of the Washington Post, the latest chapter in the close relationship between the Naval Academy and Patriots coach Bill Belichick involved some first-class travel arrangements for a lower-tier bowl game.

The Patriots loaned their team plane to the Navy football team (actually they paid to borrow the plane Robert Kraft owns) for the trip to Memphis to face Kansas State.

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We were all pampered for a little bit,” Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “Just very grateful to [Patriots’ owner] Robert Kraft, the Patriots, Mr. Belichick — it was awesome.

“There were people coming with the candy tray, the chocolate chip cookie was nice and warm. It’s obviously designed for a football team, so the spacing was awesome. I was kind of sad when they said it was only a two-hour flight, you know usually you want a quick flight but this time, I was a little sad.”

Belichick’s father Steve was a longtime assistant coach and scout at Navy, and the Patriots coach grew up watching their practices and learning the game there. He’s continued the relationship through the years, and talked to Niumatalolo last offseason about how to fix things after a 3-10 season. With a 10-2 rebound, you could say they’ve taken the program to new heights — and done it in style.

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