U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has stepped up for a newly minted Navy officer seeking a shot at an NFL career.
As The Free Press recently reported, U.S. Naval Academy graduate Cameron Kinley, a star cornerback on Navy’s football team, got a contract as an undrafted free agent to play with Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Under a rule approved by former President Donald Trump, athletes at the nation’s military academies can delay their service to the nation until after their professional sports careers end.
One West Point grad, and three others from the Air Force Academy have been cleared to seek NFL careers.
Yet the Navy has refused Kinley’s request to invoke the rule. As The Free Press noted, Navy Secretary Thomas Harker never presented such a request for Kinley, or any other Naval Academy athletes, to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Harker has not publicly explained why he’s declined to grant the requests.
In a tweet string, Kinley lamented being denied his “childhood dream.”
“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,” wrote Kinley, who was also the senior class president.
In a letter, Rubio, a Florida Republican, went to the top of the chain of command, President Joe Biden.
Rubio argued to Biden that Kinley’s plight was “an issue of great unfairness.”
“In years past, the U.S. Department of Defense has issued many waivers to allow athletes to temporarily delay their service to our nation to pursue their professional sports dreams. Unfortunately, Mr. Kinley seems to be the exception, and without reason,” wrote Rubio, who referred to Kinley as a “talented and patriotic young man.”
“These athletes serve as incredible role models for our youth – service members who share a love of country on and off the field,” Rubio added.
Yet, he noted, Harker “denied his request for deferment without cause, and will not allow for an appeal.”
Kinley is not “seeking to terminate his commitment to the Navy,” Rubio maintained. “Far from it. He wishes to promote service to our great nation from one of the country’s largest stages.”
“I implore you to right this wrong,” Rubio concluded. “Grant Mr. Kinley’s waiver to play in the NFL, and 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.”
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