There once was a time when athletes who were enrolled in any of the United States Service Academies didn’t have the option to pursue their dream of playing professional sports until after their enlistments were completed. But the current policy in Washington D.C. allows some graduates of the academies to defer their commission while they chase a pro sports career.

Unfortunately for the Bucs, undrafted free agent cornerback Cameron Kinley – for now – won’t have that opportunity as the U.S. Navy has denied Kinley’s petition to put off his service as he attempted to make it in the NFL.

A three-sport athlete out of Lausanne Collegiate High School in Memphis, Tennessee, Kinley had dreams of attending Vanderbilt University. His eyes set on an SEC school that boasts nationally-renowned academics and resides just three hours away from home. But he ultimately never received an offer from the Commodores. Instead, Kinley was forced to make a choice between the offers that were extended to him. A comprehensive list that included the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

Kinley had never considered joining the armed forces prior to his recruitment. But after discussions with some of his teachers and faculty as a senior, and some nudging from his grandfather who was once a chief in the Navy, Kinley ultimately decided to continue his football career at the Naval Academy.

Kinley played four years at Navy and totaled 88 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, 12 passes defended and one forced fumble in 27 games. Even despite losing his starting role during the 2020 season, Kinley remained a team captain. And to make his resume even more impressive, Kinley was also the Academy’s senior class president.

PewterReport.com contact Kinley’s agent who sent us this press release in response to the decision.

United States Naval Academy 2021 Class President and Navy Football team captain Cameron Kinley’s request to delay his commission to play in the NFL has been denied. Kinley is being required to commission into the U.S. Navy as an Ensign unlike his counterparts at other service academies who also signed NFL contracts this year in accordance with Directive-type Memorandum 19-011.

Kinley signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was approved by the U.S.
Navy to participate in rookie minicamp where he has been a standout. Due to unexplained Reasons, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker has denied Kinley’s request to delay his commission. The U.S. Navy is also denying Kinley the opportunity to appeal this decision. Denying Cameron a fair process will also deny him the dream of playing in the NFL.

“As a Naval Academy graduate, football player, and decorated combat veteran I understand Cameron’s commitment. I also understand there are ways he can fulfill his commitment while representing the Navy and playing professional sports. I played with three-time Superbowl Champion Joe Cardona, who still serves our country as a Navy reservist. If there is a directive and precedent allowing 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 going forward. He wants to fulfill both of his childhood dreams, playing in the NFL and honorably serving his country.” said Divine Sports and Entertainment Co-Founder, Ryan Williams-Jenkins.

The other service academy graduates who have been allowed to forego their commission to play in the NFL are John Rhattigan (WestPoint) who signed with the Seahawks, Nolan Laufenberg (Air Force) who signed with the Broncos and George Silvanic (Air Force) who signed with the Rams.

Following his speech as class president, Kinley presented a gift to the Vice President of the United States, Vice President Kamala Harris who delivered the keynote address during the USNA’s graduation ceremony on May 28 in Annapolis, MD.

Kindly himself took to Twitter on Monday afternoon after the decision by the Navy was made available.

The Bucs being a three-day mandatory mini-camp on Tuesday but it looks like they will have it with one less player in attendance.

– Taylor Jenkins contributed to this report

 

 

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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eaustinyoung
4 days ago

Most G.I. should know that they don’t ever get their way. It is what it is. You’re government property until your contract is fulfilled.

Naplesfan
Reply to  eaustinyoung
4 days ago

He’s not a GI – nobody is a GI, that’s an archaic term. Kinley is a USNA graduate and can either commission immediately as an Ensign or delay commissioning while playing in the NFL.

michael
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 days ago

ehhhh.. The Army still uses the term GI in reference to enlisted. Granted being called a “joe” is far more common. Ever heard of the… GI Bill? lol

Naplesfan
Reply to  michael
4 days ago

Uhh, no, the Army does NOT use the term GI. The acronym does not even refer only to enlisted – it means “General Infantry” and that was a World War Two era term long retired.
Besides, what part of United States Naval Academy says “Army” or “Infantry”?

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 days ago

Bro Navy ensigns still qualify for the GI Bill. It’s just a turn of phrase. Calm down.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 days ago

It’s a colloquialism for Government Issue and everyone knows exactly what I’m saying.

TBChucky
4 days ago

That’s unfortunate for the young man and the team..

Horse
Reply to  TBChucky
3 days ago

No it’s not! He is now Navy first, then whatever.

danielob
4 days ago

Sad to hear, maybe Kamala will see this story and do something about it.

michael
Reply to  danielob
4 days ago

she should probably mind her business as she was never a servicemember.

Naplesfan
Reply to  michael
4 days ago

You’re an idiot.

Horse
Reply to  danielob
3 days ago

Not sure why you bring politics into this and our Vice President? She has no authority in this. Lets don’t go there please.

tpeluso
4 days ago

I’m fairly confident this decision will ultimately be reversed thanks to public pressure and the clear lack of equal treatment Kinley is receiving.

michael
Reply to  tpeluso
4 days ago

Different branches have vastly different regulations. it would be different if other Navy grads were allowed to play, and he was not. However, that’s not the case. Educate yourself

Naplesfan
Reply to  michael
4 days ago

Stop commenting stupidly. Or better yet, stop commenting period.

Naplesfan
4 days ago

This is strange, makes no sense. If the Navy Secretary believed that Kinley should do his naval service first, then he should not have approved Kinley signing as an undrafted free agent with the Bucs and participating in the rookie mini-camp. To approve the former and then suddenly disapprove his request to play in the NFL, that’s cruel. To even deny an opportunity to appeal the decision is crueler still. This carries a strong whiff of “whatever Trump approved, we’re now disapproving”. Which seems to be SOP with the new administration. This isn’t right. Even if not letting him play… Read more »

Last edited 4 days ago by Naplesfan
michael
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 days ago

President Biden never served, nor did Trump. They ought to stay in their lane. “cruel”. there’s nothing cruel about this. He signed up to serve, it’s time to do that. If the USN doesn’t want to give him grace, they shouldn’t be strong-armed by the POTUS in order to do so.
“cruel”. Pretty loose usage of that term. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you’ve never served.

ScottC543
Reply to  michael
4 days ago

I served, and I agree it was cruel. If they had no intent of allowing him to defer his service obligation they should have told him so. To let it go this far before pulling the rug out from under his feet was callous at the very least.

And the entire time he serves he’ll know the Navy didn’t and doesn’t give a flying rat’s ass about his dreams and aspirations.

Last edited 4 days ago by ScottC543
Naplesfan
Reply to  michael
4 days ago

You’re a complete idiot. President Biden is the Commander in Chief of the entire US military. He is the last word on military decisions unless they are judicial in nature.

michael
4 days ago

On one hand I get where he’s coming from. On the other (prior Army) he needs to honor the commitment he made to the USN. He said he is “deserving” of trying to make it in the NFL. While on-field play agrees, signing your name on that line for the USN says otherwise. You aren’t entitled to anything, as you should be well aware by now. It would be nice if they let you try out. But don’t bring entitlement, and drama, to the military. All it does is hurt the mission, and you may have already alienated men who… Read more »

BucHarbour
Reply to  michael
4 days ago

I get where you are coming from, and I agree to an extent since you do sign yourself away and Academy grads get there schooling paid for. But in this case, if SECNAV wasn’t going to allow his commission to be delayed, then he shouldn’t have let him join a team for training camp. It’s just wrong to do that, but par for the course.

Naplesfan
Reply to  BucHarbour
4 days ago

It’s actually not “par for the course”. It’s not been done in that way before.

BucHarbour
Reply to  Naplesfan
3 days ago

I wasn’t referring to this specific set of circumstances, just how the Navy has had a habit of doing things at times that are without concern for the individuals involved. It really depends on whose running the show. At the end of the day, they do get to hold him to his commitment, but it was a classless way they went about doing it. Doesn’t speak very highly to the leadership quality of this SECNAV.

Naplesfan
Reply to  michael
4 days ago

You’re an idiot. The young man claims no entitlements to anything.
The Navy told him he could stand for the draft, and told him he could sign with a team as an undrafted free agent, and told him he could participate in a mandatory rookie mini-camp.
After saying “yes” to an immediate career in the NFL three straight times, then the Navy mysteriously reversed itself this week. That is nonsense.
You are nonsense – just stop commenting stupidly.

Horse
Reply to  michael
3 days ago

Well said.

KhanRada
4 days ago

That sucks. I know he rather have the chance to compete for a roster spot and earn over a million bucks, then being on a brutal Navy ship. Hopefully it’s just one more year and stay healthy Kinley. I don’t want the Buccaneers to give up on him he’s aptitude isn’t bad.

BucHarbour
Reply to  KhanRada
4 days ago

What’s brutal about a Navy ship? Granted, I only did a training detachment for 2 weeks on the Ike, but there wasn’t anything I would deem brutal, except maybe the berthing. It’s also not a given he’ll even be on a ship. Depending on what his rate is (or whatever they call it for officers – we call it a rate (rating) for enlisted), he could ended up on shore most of the time, just as I did.

KhanRada
Reply to  BucHarbour
4 days ago

And you believe whatever his job is to be easy? I’m sure when you where in the Navy you took your job seriously. I am sure Kinley will not slack whatever his task is, It just sucks that Navy is using is aptitude when he’s a fairly good tackling defensive back or a good football player. A good special teamer at tackling that the Buccaneers can use.

Horse
Reply to  KhanRada
3 days ago

There are no individuals when it comes to the military; it is about Duty, Honor, Country.

Naplesfan
Reply to  KhanRada
4 days ago

What the fuck is a “brutal Navy ship”?
Really? Was that just a stupid brain fart, or what?
There is nothing brutal whatsoever about service on a Navy ship. Been there, done that. I know.

PissedOffBuc1988
4 days ago

This decision needs to come much sooner than this. Yes, he signed up to serve, but when you are allowed to go through the entire draft process, sign on a team, go through otas and rookie mini camp, the decision should be that he is allowed to pursue those goals baring a car to a legitimate war. To just keep this decision lingering and deciding just weeks before he is preparing for a roster spot is Busch league. Idc if it’s military related, cadets, shipman, grunts..they deserve to be told in a timely manner and not deep into the process… Read more »

PewterPose
4 days ago

This is some bullshit.

scubog
4 days ago

There have been enough cases, in which other exceptional military academy athletes were permitted to forego their military commitment, that a strong precedent has been set to challenge Naval Secretary Harker’s seeming off the cuff stance. I suspect that’s what’s going to happen. If Kinley was recruited with the understanding that, should this NFL opportunity arise, he would be free to pursue it and delay or alter his mandated service commitment, then in my view, the Navy should honor it. If no such promise was made, he can certainly request, but not expect, a relaxation of the rules. This situation… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  scubog
4 days ago

I don’t believe at all that USNA or the other service academies recruit players with any suggestion, let alone promise, of a right to play NFL football immediately after graduation. They are all signed to a contract that requires a specified number of years of active duty service as a commissioned officer, if they do in fact graduate, or service as an enlisted person if they fail to graduate, unless there is a physical or other type of hardship preventing such service. What happened here is that the Navy, entirely at its own discretion, approved this young man to pursue… Read more »

Horse
Reply to  Naplesfan
3 days ago

Not really for the military if he had already received his orders as to when he reports for duty. There are always exceptions, like to continue an MBA or PHD which would benefit the Military like an Attorney, Nurse, Medical Doctor. I believe David Robinson reported for Duty for his MOS, then was assigned close to the NBA City where he was drafted.

Horse
Reply to  scubog
3 days ago

Scubog, this could have changed since my previous 3 years in the Army as an Officer, but this is what happened to me. Right after my College Graduation, us ROTC Cadets were sworn in as Commissioned Officers. It was 3 months before I received my military orders to report to my Branch Service School in order to obtain my basic Military Operation Specialty (MOS); and usually thereafter a Critical MOS if so required. So for 90 days I was on my own to go and do whatever i wanted to. All I am saying there is flexibility here, and I… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  Horse
3 days ago

It all depends on what the youngster was told when he agreed to attend the academy. It’s not like he was drafted or had the threat of being drafted like we did in the Viet Nam era. He was persuaded to go there. If he was told he could have a chance to pursue a career in the NFL and now this guy reneged, that’s a problem for me.

fredster
4 days ago

Seems stupid decision by Navy. I mean in 5 years he will be too old and too long out of football to get a shot again. They should let him try to play them serve later it’s not like we are at war and need every person right this second. Maybe the negative public opinion will sway them.

Horse
Reply to  fredster
3 days ago

Roger Stallback comes to mind for me.

Dave
4 days ago

not a fan at all of how this was handled by the Navy. A bunch of people echoed my sentiments. Which is – you either 100% approve and honor his dream of playing in the NFL in its entirety. Or, you 100% deny his dream of playing in the NFL in its entirety. But don’t pick and choose what you want to approve or deny. I understand that you know what you sign up for, when you sign your name on the dotted line. But it should not have been handled in this way. Period

Last edited 4 days ago by Dave
BleedOrange78
4 days ago

There is so much wrong with this story. I don’t know why he was “recruited” by the Navy in the first place. The service academies are places where you proactively apply (with a member of Congress acting as a kind of sponsor) with the full intention of going into one of the services as a commissioned officer. It is not a place to sharpen your athletic skills for any professional sports league immediately upon graduation. Do I blame Kinley? Both yes and no. Yes, in that he should never have gone to the Naval Academy if he wanted to play… Read more »

Horse
Reply to  BleedOrange78
3 days ago

EXACTLY!

Horse
3 days ago

Lets make this a little clearer for all. Once someone graduates from a Military School, they have a previous contract signed by them pertaining to which military branch they signed with; that’s a done deal. They can’t get out of it unless that military branch agrees to it. Sounds like to me this service branch sees a greater need for him than the NFL? Well maybe; they could just be sending the message as to they are in charge of the situation, not him. My guess is he will report to his next military assignment and complete his Military Branch… Read more »