Cameron Kinley: Conversely, US military allows Navy football captain to delay service to try to play in the NFL


“Today I approved a Department of the Navy plan that will allow former Naval Academy midshipman Cameron Kinley to play professional football in the NFL,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement.

“This plan will see Cameron enlist in the Inactive Ready Reserve for the duration of his football career. At the end of his playing time, we look forward to welcoming him back to the ranks as a naval officer. “, says the press release.

The reversal represents a significant about-face for the US military several weeks after it initially rejected Kinley’s request for delay in service, drawing criticism. This means Kinley, who had signed with Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted rookie cornerback and attended the team’s rookie minicamp, will now be able to attend the team’s training camp. end of July.

Kinley had announced last month that the Secretary of the Navy had rejected his application and that he was required to enlist in the US Navy as an ensign.

In one declaration On Tuesday, Kinley said he was “extremely grateful for Secretary Austin’s decision and I am delighted to represent our great army in the National Football League.” He then thanked a number of people, including the team, writing that he was “excited to get back to work in Tampa Bay with my teammates.”

Buccaneers chief executive Jason Licht said in a statement to CNN that they were “thrilled” for Kinley and “appreciated the Pentagon’s willingness” to work with him.

Austin said Tuesday he was pleased with the “leadership of the Navy for finding this way to showcase Cameron’s athletic prowess, as well as the quality and professionalism of our student-athletes and staff,” noting that Kinley would take the opportunity to help with the Navy recruiting efforts.

President Joe Biden said after the announcement that he was “happy” with Austin’s decision, adding in a statement that he was “confident Cameron would represent the Navy well in the NFL, just as he did. made as an outstanding athlete and class president at the Navy Academy. “

Graduates of service academies are typically required to serve on active duty for five years after graduation, but the Navy’s denial was part of a policy that has changed several times in recent years.

September 15, 2018 - Cameron Kinley waves to the crowd before singing the Blue & Gold after the game held at Navy-Marine Crops Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland.

During the Obama administration, then Secretary of Defense Ash Carter issued a policy allowing certain service academy athletes to be placed in reserve to play for professional sports teams. The Trump administration repealed this policy in 2017 under Secretary of Defense James Mattis, but then reversed its position in 2019 after Trump mentioned the issue during a White House ceremony with the football team. the army.

Kinley now joins four graduates from other service academies who were allowed to relinquish their service engagement this year: Rhattigan, a West Point graduate who signed with the Seattle Seahawks; Nolan Laufenberg, an Air Force graduate who signed with the Denver Broncos; George Silvanic, an Air Force graduate who signed with the Los Angeles Rams; and Parker Ferguson, an Air Force graduate who signed with the New York Jets.

Kinley played 27 games during his four-year college career, totaling 88 total tackles, one interception and 12 defended.

A number of Navy graduates have gone on to play in the NFL, with three Navy graduates having been drafted by teams in recent years, including long snapper Joe Cardona in 2015, catcher / running back Keenan Reynolds in 2016 and running back Malcolm Perry last year. .

CNN’s Eric Levenson and Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.


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