Pentagon Lets Cameron Kinley Delay Service for N.F.L.
In a flip-flop, the Department of Defense approved cornerback Cameron Kinley’s request to delay his commission in the Navy so he could play in the NFL, concluding a weeklong saga in which Kinley s’ was initially denied the opportunity to pursue a professional football career.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has announced that Kinley will be drafted into the Inactive Ready Reserve and is expected to serve in the Navy after his tenure in the NFL ends.
“We know Cameron will take every opportunity on and off the field to competently represent the Navy and Army to the American people and to assist us in our recruiting efforts,” Austin said in a statement. “I applaud the leadership of the Navy for finding this way to showcase both Cameron’s athletic prowess, as well as the quality and professionalism of our student-athletes and staff.
Kinley, a team captain and class president at the US Naval Academy, had asked to postpone his five-year service appointment after graduating this spring. He signed with the reigning Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent and attended the rookie minicamp in May.
But Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker declined the request in June without explanation. The situation has garnered national attention and Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has written to President Biden urging him to intervene.
Kinley has repeatedly stated that he intends to end his engagement, and his representatives at Divine Sports and Entertainment, in a declaration, pointed out the recent allowances given to football players from other high schools of service. The Army allowed Jon Rhattigan to delay his service and join the Seattle Seahawks, as did the Air Force for Nolan Laufenberg, who joined the Denver Broncos, and George Silvanic, who joined the Los Angeles Rams. .
“It’s kind of Catch-22. I know he wants to try to be a professional football player, but he’s obviously a ton for the Navy, ”Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said at the mandatory minicamp in June. “So I’m going to leave that to them. I would love to have him, because I thought he was showing some promising signs when he was here.
Lt. Cmdr. Patricia Kreuzberger, a spokeswoman for the Navy, said Kinley had submitted a petition to the Board for Correction of Naval Records, which recommended that her service commission be canceled. Harker approved the recommendation and forwarded it to Austin, Kreuzberger said.
Kinley, in a statement Tuesday, thanked Rubio; NFL Players Association President DeMaurice Smith; and its agents for their lobbying. Kinley, who recorded 88 tackles in the Navy, will now be looking to make the Buccaneers’ active roster when training camp begins later this month.
“The most valuable lesson I’ve learned through this process,” Kinley said, “is to trust your timing and be confident that God will always prevail.”
Official policy for graduates of service academies pursuing careers as professional athletes has changed several times in recent years, with athletes being required to reimburse their academy attendance fees if they immediately play professionally without get waiver. Under the Obama administration, graduates could continue their athletic careers immediately if they achieved reserve status. But President Donald J. Trump in 2017 repealed the policy, only to ask the Defense Department to re-enact it in 2019 after welcoming the Army football team to the White House. Biden, in a statement Tuesday, said he supported the Pentagon’s decision.
“I have no doubts that Cameron will represent the Navy well in the NFL, just as he did as an outstanding athlete and class president at the Naval Academy. After his NFL career is over, he will continue to make us proud as an officer of the United States Navy. “
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