Navy rejects request from Tampa Bay rookie to delay service for NFL career
The US Navy suspends Cameron Kinley’s career in the NFL.
Kinley, who signed with the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent, was denied his delay in service request. As a result, he is set to enter Navy service as an ensign and will not be able to play for Tampa Bay until he completes his service.
Following the decision, Kinley issued a statement on his personal Twitter account who detailed his thoughts and feelings on this matter. He also asked why his request was denied when other players from military schools are allowed to play in the NFL.
Currently I have four other counterparts who have not been denied the opportunity to compete in the NFL: Jon Rhattigan (West Point / Seahawks), Nolan Laufenberg (Air Force / Broncos), George Silvanic (Air Force / Rams) and Parker Ferguson (Air Force / Jets). Although I recognize that these men belong to different branches of the armed forces, I wonder why I am the only person to be denied this opportunity.
I am very aware of the commitment I made to service when I arrived at the United States Naval Academy. I look forward to my career as a naval officer in the information warfare community. However, I deserve the opportunity to live out another of my long-held dreams before fulfilling my service requirement.
Admittedly, it is strange that Kinley’s demands are not lifted as other members of the service have secured the right to play. As Kinley mentioned, it might have to do with an increased need for naval officers, but he was not provided with an explanation for the denial of his request.
And as Divine Sports and Entertainment co-founder Ryan Williams-Jenkins said in a statement to ESPN, it is common for members of the armed forces not to be required to play.
“As a Naval Academy graduate, football player and decorated combat veteran, I understand Cameron’s commitment,” said Williams-Jenkins. “I also understand that there are ways for him to fulfill his commitment while representing the Navy and playing professional sports. I have played with three-time Super Bowl champion Joe Cardona, who still serves our country as a Navy reservist. If there is a directive and precedent to allow other service academy athletes to pursue this opportunity, what makes Cameron different? It is important to note that this could have a long-term impact on his mental health in the future. He wants to fulfill his two childhood dreams, to play in the NFL and to serve his country honorably. “
And the three current Navy players in the NFL, Malcolm Perry, Cardona and Paul Quessenberry, are good examples. Only one of them, Quessenberry, must have served right away. The other two have yet to complete their services (Perry, who was drafted in 2020) or have completed their service playing in the NFL (Cardona, who was drafted in 2015 and still serves).
Either way, Kinley is hoping the decision will be overturned so he can continue to compete with the Buccaneers. But if things stay the way they are, the undrafted rookie won’t be able to fight for a spot on the roster with the Super Bowl champions.