Air Force players were led to believe they could head to the NFL

Getty Images

On Saturday, it became publicly known that the Air Force has changed its policy regarding football players from the Air Force Academy with NFL opportunities, requiring them to spend two years on active duty before playing professional football. It was news to the Air Force players, too.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the players had been led to believe throughout the pre-draft process that they could join the NFL. As a result, they spent time and money training for the selection process. Air Force receiver Jalen Robinette even participated in the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine under the clear impression that he would be permitted to play in the NFL. Several other Air Force players went through the pre-draft process, including a Pro Day workout held at the Air Force Academy on March 21.

The players believed NFL opportunities could be pursued, and as recently as Thursday they continued to be under that impression. Most if not all became aware of the change through the Denver Post article communicating the sudden shift in Air Force policy.

Coaches aren’t happy. Apart from negatively impacting future recruiting efforts, the change comes after a new class of recruits signed up under the impression that they’d have a path to pro football, too, if they play well enough in college.

The situation could make for a somewhat awkward visit by Air Force players to Washington on Tuesday, where they will receive The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy from the Commander-in-Chief.

41 responses to “Air Force players were led to believe they could head to the NFL

  1. I’d rather be a 2nd LT in the AF, than play in the Not For Long league.

    If I had an official do-over I would trade my baseball scholarship, CW Series appearance, a few hundred bus rides in A ball and gone to West Point. The long haul seems fast but it is a long haul.

    It should not hinder recruitment, except for those who wouldn’t normally get in, since the acceptance rate is less than 10%.

  2. They joined the military, they didn’t join the NFL. The military paid for their education, now it’s time to be men and serve the Air Force and the United States.

  3. Given that it cost the tax payer an avg of $534,206 (2015) for each cadet to graduate. If they wish not honor the agreement they made. Then simply pay back the money. They probably had offers from other schools with football programs. If they truly wanted to play football more then serve in the Air Force. Why go to the USAFA?

  4. Who’s idea was this? What a shame. These men aren’t trying to get out of service. They are trying to provide for their families while also serving and eventually exclusively serving. Allowing an Air Force, Westpoint, or Naval Academy graduates to pursue this opportunity is a way to respect their sacrifice and loyalty. Closing the door on a handful of players who even have a shot is a slap in the face to all of them. Do we need 3 or 4 graduate officers that much that we can’t give them someone to cheer for and boost morale? Totally lame.

  5. Why do the service academy teams continue to field teams in Division 1? Unless World War 3 breaks out they will never recruit well enough to be competitive.

  6. They’re not the only ones ever to be lied to by their recruiter. Tough break.

  7. These young men are committed to serving as officers in the Air Force after graduating. And that’s exactly what they signed up for, and that’s exactly what they should do. If the Air Force led them to believe otherwise shame on them. But you don’t go to the Air Force Academy and think you can blow off your obligation because, in essence, you got a great job offer. Somebody get Roger Staubach on the phone!

  8. Taxpayers did not have their money taken away to pay for their education so they could graduate and play football. If I did 24 years as an infantryman then they can do a mere 24 months in a cushy job before they leave for the NFL.

  9. I don’t think they should have been misled, but we taxpayers deserve an officer for providing one of the best educations available at no cost. Roger Staubach and David Robinson served, as well as others. If it hurts recruiting, well, that’s not why we built the service academies.

  10. So the military went back on promises made to recruits once they signed on the dotted line? Whoa, that’s never happened before!

  11. If you have the talent to play pro ball, don’t lock yourself into a contract with the Israeli auxiliary military. Just go to one of the many anti-white, pro-communist institutions out there.

  12. Big deal. You know how often recruiters lie to get young men and women to sign on the dotted line. It happens all the time. This is nothing more then business as usual for the armed forces. Oh, and I speak out of experience having spent eight years in the Navy.

  13. To be perfectly utilitarian about it, any one of these players is doing far more service to their country as a walking poster for the armed services than they are getting shot in the face in some desert halfway around the world.

  14. You mean an arm of our federal government wasn’t truthful?
    Say it ain’t so! Not sure this can be considered news

  15. Things change in life. After all the money that was spent on their education and man power requirements in the military, it makes sense.

  16. The primary purpose of a public/private University is to educate young men and women in a chosen field and send them out into the the world… A Service Academy’s primary purpose is to train young men and women to become military officers. The career education is secondary. When they sign on the dotted line to attend the Academy, they enlisted in the military and agreed to serve for a set amount of years.

  17. You guys are funny. I was a Marine for 13 years and I have no pity for these guys. If your goal is to play in the NFL why would you go to the airforce and sign paperwork saying you will do a mandatory amount of time? Go to a football school instead. They need to learn to live with the choices they made and honor there commitments. You can’t change your mind after you are given a completely free ride because you have a better offer. I would like to see the service Academys have some kind of buy back program where they can pay there way out but they signed up knowing these programs don’t exist.

  18. The service academies have long had a clear statement of graduates’ responsibilities. If, however, that responsibility was muddied in order to recruit football players, the Air Force should honor what the recruits were told. Unfortunately, nothing was in writing. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to defer their responsibility to the end of their NFL career.

  19. P.S. It’s just possible if the Air Force defers the cadets’s responsibility to after their NFL career they might choose the Air Force as a career.

  20. wolverineinnc says:
    Apr 30, 2017 9:26 AM
    That sucks. How does the Army and Navy handle this? If their guys can play right away, so should the Air Force players.
    You have that backwards.

    These guys know what they are doing when they sign up and most of them probably never expected to cause any interest in the draft. They are not really recruited to play football like at normal colleges. These guys seek out the academies and the acceptance rate is quite low.

    At a service academy, football is an extracurricular activity. There is no such thing as a made-up class to boost GPAs of guys who are not smart enough to mentally compete with an average HS freshman. If a guy is only athletic and needs football to avoid the fast food industry entry level jobs then they have absolutely no hope of getting accepted to a service academy. It is not the same situation many on here are ignorantly trying to equate it to.

    I would be very surprised to learn these guys were told they could transfer their commitment. It is far more likely they were told they could enter the draft and they ASSUMED that means they can go play football instead.

  21. If they want to play before serving out their military obligations, give the a dishonorable discharge. See how that works out for them.

  22. Too many here don’t seem to understand the word “defer”. It doesn’t mean those players are getting out of their military obligation, just that they’ll do it later, after they finish playing. Considering that right now they’re in the middle of their prime earning years, it’s pretty messed of the Air Force to change the rules on them like this.

    The Army and Navy allow players to do just that, and they benefit greatly: free advertising for the branch of service while their deferred officer is playing, and then they get him back as a more mature and seasoned and experienced man who is far more open to sticking around for an entire career (especially since he no longer has an athletic career to pursue), vs a resentful officer who’ll stick around only for the two year minimum, then get the hell out. As well as keep their program and recruitment attractive to high school players with NFL dreams. Win-win. But the Air Force had to turn A-holes and shoot themselves in the foot like that.

  23. They signed up for the military not the NFL. Now serve your commitment.

  24. There is nothing in either precedent, contract, or law that gives these young men any cause to whine about this decision. Each of them signed a contract which obligates them to their service, which may be extended until the date of their mandatory retirement, should that be judged necessary. Period. Anyone who told them different was speaking out of their ass.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.