- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 1, 2001

Navy quarterback Brian Madden understands as much as anyone the significance of today's 102nd Army-Navy football game following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The senior believes people will watch the game just to see "the future leaders of the country" and what "the kids are all about." But he also recognizes that a victory today for the winless Midshipmen at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia will not make the season palatable. This is Navy's bowl game, but it cannot make up for nine losses, four by six or fewer points.
"For me, it's been a frustrating year," said Madden, who leads the nation's quarterbacks in rushing yards per game (118.6). "I thought [we could have had] seven wins. We've been that close."
According to Madden, some players don't believe they can win every game. "A win [today] won't ease [the season] at all," Madden said. "For some of these guys, maybe it is, beating Army [2-8]. For me, if I don't beat Notre Dame, Rutgers and Toledo, that hurts as much.
There is an outside chance Madden could return to Navy next season. He missed his junior season because of a knee injury and lost a year of eligibility because Navy has a no-redshirt policy. He will discuss his future with academy officials after the season.
"If I can get an opportunity to come back, I'm going to really take a stand, one I couldn't take at the beginning of the year because I put myself in a hole," Madden said. "We got to win this to get everything going in the right direction."
Navy also was winless last season before beating Army. The Mids won but failed to build on that success. Madden and defensive end Michael Wagoner were suspended for the first two and three games this season, respectively, for their roles in the theft of a parking meter in Baltimore and Navy never got on track.
The opener against Temple was a winnable game, with the Owls playing without three key starters. But Navy lost, and kept losing. Last year in the locker room before the Army game, Wagoner kept saying he had next year to get things on track, but now he realizes it's all coming to an end.
"As a junior, I kept thinking, I've got another year at least I've got another year," Wagoner said. "Now we come down to the point where it's your last game, the last game you're gonna have. We've had a couple hard years. … It's been a trying season, but going out on a high note definitely would be a positive."
Madden and Wagoner clearly are focused on their task today. After the season, there will be time for reflection.
"At some point, you realize all that we've been through and the adversity we've all faced," Madden said. "There's going to be a point where we sit and talk, wonder what happened, and ask, 'Why did we end up the way we did?'"

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