Army Football Drops 'GFBD' from Motto Because of White Supremacist Origins

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2019

Army football players listen to the West Point Band play the alma mater after winning an NCAA college football game 52-21 against Morgan State, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 in West Point, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julius Constantine Motal)
Julius Constantine Motal/Associated Press

The Army Black Knights football team has dropped its "God Forgives, Brothers Don't" slogan and the accompanying black skull-and-crossbones flag after an internal investigation into the origins of the saying revealed ties to white supremacist gangs.

ESPN's Dan Murphy reported Friday that West Point officials and members of the school's athletic department were alerted of the issue in September, which led the team to stop using the GFBD slogan for the 2019 season.

It's now been removed permanently following the probe.

"It's embarrassing, quite frankly," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, the superintendent of the United States Military Academy, told ESPN. "... We take stuff like this very, very seriously. Once I found out about this goofiness, I asked one of our most senior colonels to investigate."

Army traced the origins of its football team using the slogan to the 1990s and made contact with the cadet who helped establish it, but he told investigators he was unaware of the phrase's background, per Murphy. School officials declined to name the former cadet.

Athletic director Mike Buddie told ESPN that head coach Jeff Monken was "mortified" after being alerted of the background information and attempted to use it as a "teaching moment" for his players.

The investigation's final report deemed the team's use of the phrase as "benign," stating there was no evidence there was knowledge of its origins within the program, and it wasn't established to align with the beliefs of "white supremacist groups or any other disreputable organizations," per Murphy.

Army holds a 5-7 record in 2019. The Black Knights finish the campaign Dec. 14 with the annual Army-Navy game. The Midshipmen are 9-2.

Navy also dropped its slogan for the 2019 season, "Load the Clip," in August after concerns were raised it was insensitive toward people who've suffered from gun violence. It was replaced by "Win the Day."