Navy Won’t Allow Soldier To Play In NFL After Getting Offer, No Exceptions

( Cameron Kinley had a dream of playing in the National Football League. When he signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it looked like he was well on his way to fulfilling that dream.

That all seemingly disappeared quickly on Monday, though, when the Navy told him he wouldn’t be allowed to delay his active-duty service so that he could play in the NFL. What’s worse, the decision was final, and Kinley would have no option to appeal it.

Kinley was a team captain for the football team at the U.S. Naval Academy, and was also a class president. He graduated from the Navy last week, and had requested to have his commission delayed so he could play in the NFL.

On Monday, he posted a personal statement to Twitter that read:

“I have spent the past week processing my emotions, as it is very difficult to have been this close to achieving a childhood dream and having it taken away from me. I look forward to my career as a naval officer … However, I am deserving of an opportunity to live out another one of my life-long dreams before fulfilling my service requirement.”

The Navy’s decision to not allow Kinley to delay his service requirement goes in the face of a decision made under former President Donald Trump. In 2019, Mark Esper, the defense secretary, signed a memo that said allows at any of the U.S. service academies could play sports professionally immediately after they graduated.

Prior to that memo, athletes could obtain a waiver to play sports professionally after they served on active duty for two years.

For some reason, though, the Navy under President Joe Biden isn’t going to abide by that memo Esper sent out.

In no way did Kinley say he wanted to not have to meet his service requirement. Rather, he just wanted to delay it, as many former athletes did.

In fact, there are a few recent examples of athletes who were able to delay their service requirement to play in the NFL. That includes Jon Rhattigan of West Point who played with the Seattle Seahawks, airman Nolan Laufenberg who played for the Denver Broncos, airman Parker Ferguson who played for the New York Jets, and airman George Silvanic who played for the Los Angeles Rams.

What’s even stranger about the Navy’s decision is they gave Kinley permission to sign with the Buccaneers and participate in their rookie minicamp. While Kinley was not selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, he was able to sign with Tampa Bay.

Why, then, would the Navy pull back and force Kinley to serve now if they had already given him persmission to sign with a team?

Since Kinley is unable to appeal his decision with the Navy, he reached out to local politicians for support. In his Twitter personal statement, he wrote of the other service members who had been allowed to delay their service:

“While I acknowledge that these men are from different branches of the armed services, it puzzles me as to why I am the only person to be denied this opportunity.”