TAMPA, Fla. – The Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers have apparently lost a shot at a promising rookie cornerback.
That’s because he’s off to serve his country.
The Bucs signed Naval Academy star, and senior class president, Cameron Kinley as an undrafted free agent after the NFL draft. He recently attended a rookie minicamp.
But the U.S. Navy recently declined to let Kinley out of his five-year commitment to serve in the military in order to pursue an NFL career, according to the Military Times.
“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,” Kinley said in a statement posted on Twitter on Monday.
“Unfortunately, due to the decision, I am unable to continue playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I have hopes that this situation will soon be overturned and that I can get back to competing on the field and representing the U.S. Navy.”
Kinley noted that former President Donald Trump had relaxed the rules for athletes at the service academies so they could have an opportunity to play professional sports. That took effect in 2019.
Kinley said he is “very aware” of the commitment he made to serving in the Navy when he came to Annapolis. He added that he looks forward to serving in the Navy.
But he also believes he deserves an opportunity “to live out another one of my life-long dreams before fulfilling my service requirement.”
Just like four other athletes from the service academies.
Kinley pointed out that the Seattle Seahawks signed West Point graduate Jon Rhatigan, while the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, and New York Jets signed, respectively, Air Force graduates Nolan Laufenberg, George Silvanic, and Parker Ferguson.
“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,” Kinley said.
Well, according to the Times, the stated reason Kinley won’t have the same opportunity as those other cadets is that acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker dismissed it.
Harker’s spokesman, Capt. Jereal Dorsey, told the Times that Harker did not forward any requests by Naval Academy athletes for delayed commitment to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“Admission to the Naval Academy is an extensive and competitive process. The mission of the Naval Academy is to develop young men and women to commission as officers in the Navy or Marine Corps. When students accept admission and continue their education in this program, there is an understanding and acknowledgment that they will upon graduation be commissioned,” Dorsey told the Times.
“Every Midshipman attends on the same terms and each has the same responsibility to serve. Exceptions to that commitment to serve have been rightfully rare.”
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