Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pentagon Chief Clears Navy Football Star To Join Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, FL. – It seems the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their man after all.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will allow Naval Academy star Cameron Kinley a shot at an NFL career, Fox News reported on Tuesday.

“Today, I have approved a plan by the Department of the Navy that will permit former Naval Academy midshipman Cameron Kinley to play professional football in the NFL,” Austin said in a statement to Fox.

“This plan will see Cameron enlisted in the Inactive Ready Reserve for the duration of his football career. Upon completion of his playing time, we look forward to welcoming him back into the ranks as a naval officer.

“In the meantime,” Austin added, “we know Cameron will take every opportunity on and off the field to ably represent the Navy and the military to the American people and to assist us in our recruiting efforts.”

“I applaud Navy leadership for finding this way to showcase both Cameron’s athletic prowess, as well as the quality and professionalism of our student-athletes and our personnel.”

As The Free Press has reported, Kinley, a star defensive back at Navy, was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Bucs over the summer.   

Yet acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker had denied Kinley’s request to defer his military service so he could pursue an NFL career in accordance with a 2019 policy geared toward service academy athletes implemented by former President Donald Trump.

The only reason the Navy provided for Harker’s denial came about a month ago, when a spokesman said Harker had not asked Austin for deferments for any Navy athletes.

“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,” Capt. Jereal Dorsey said at the time.

On Twitter, Kinley responded, “Today I was informed the Secretary of Defense will be allowing me to continue my journey with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and attend training camp at the end of this month.”

“I am extremely appreciative of Secretary Austin’s decision and I am excited to represent our fine military in the National Football League. This past month has been very challenging and I am thankful for everyone who has supported me in any way.”

He added, “Sometimes in life God tells us to be still. We do not always understand what He is trying to show us, but He always has an ultimate plan. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned throughout the whole process is to trust His timing and remain confident in the fact that God will always prevail.”

In addition to Austin, among those Kinley publicly thanked for his opportunity was Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who had written a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to approve Kinley’s request.

In that letter, Rubio called Kinley a “talented and patriotic young man” who was only seeking to delay, not drop, his commitment to serve his country. Rubio maintained that Biden should “send a message to future academy graduates that the United States is a country where Americans can follow their dreams and be true to their commitment.”

The Bucs begin training camp on July 24.

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