This spring, the long-awaited sequel to the 1986 movie “Top Gun” hit theaters. “Top Gun: Maverick” became the highest grossing film of the year as it stayed in theaters throughout the summer.
The sequel’s impressive theatrical release raised the age old question of whether sequels can be better than the original. In a rare candid moment at the 123rd Army-Navy game, American Military News asked Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin his take on that very same question.
Austin attended the 123rd Army-Navy football game between the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis on Saturday, December 10. The 28th U.S. Secretary of Defense was at the game to carry out the coin toss to decide the kickoff.
Being the top civilian leader of the military, a security entourage followed Austin everywhere he went in the 72,000 capacity Lincoln Financial Field NFL stadium on Saturday. As American Military News covered the Army-Navy game, we quickly learned that politicians, generals and celebrities attending the event all moved in a pack with their entourage. Whenever we noticed an entourage, we knew someone important was in the center of the pack.
As we were heading down the tunnel at the Lincoln Financial Field to get onto the sidelines before the end of the fourth quarter, we noticed one of these entourages rounding a corner walking in the other direction: it was Austin and his security detail.
With only a moment to prepare, we got out our phones and I shouted this all important movie sequel question to the secretary of defense, “What’s better, ‘Top Gun’ or ‘Top Gun: Maverick?’”
The question drew a laugh from the entourage, which is probably used to hearing more political questions shouted at their protectee when they’re on the move.
“I’d ask the experts in the crowd,” Austin responded, pointing back toward the field. “You know, I’m probably not a good judge. I think they’re both great films.”
Austin’s entourage kept us at arms length throughout the interaction and before long he was in a section of the stadium where we did not have access. We continued back onto the field to watch the fourth quarter of the Army-Navy game end in a 10-10 tie, which took the game into the first overtime play of the 123rd game rivalry. West Point won the game in overtime with a score of 20-17 against Annapolis.