Cameron Kinley “speechless” over Navy’s refusal to let him pursue an NFL career

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 Holy Cross at Navy
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Despite signing as an undrafted rookie with the Buccaneers, Cameron Kinley won’t be given a chance to play in the NFL. A cornerback who played his college football at Navy, was informed this week that he will be required to go directly into military service. Kinley still doesn’t know why.

“I was given no explanation and I was told that there is no appeal process,” Kinley said on The Dan Patrick Show. “I just want to get my story out there because I feel like it needs to be heard.”

The Pentagon has allowed other service academy graduates to defer their active military service to pursue professional sports careers, but Kinley said he’s not expecting anyone to tell him why he’s being treated differently.

“That’s kind of the business that we’re in in the military. I’m not owed an explanation,” Kinley said. “The acting secretary of the Navy, it was up to his discretion.”

Kinley said it was his childhood dream to play in the NFL.

“I’m speechless,” Kinley said. “I felt like I had a piece of me taken away.”

Kinley made clear that he does want to serve in the Navy, but he hoped the same allowances that have been extended to other pro athletes would be extended to him.

“The common misconception is that I don’t want to serve and that’s never been the case,” Kinley said. “I just felt like I had the opportunity to do both and I don’t see why I’m not able to.”

34 responses to “Cameron Kinley “speechless” over Navy’s refusal to let him pursue an NFL career

  1. I feel sorry for him and hope that this situation is rectified. If he was trying to avoid his service entirely then I would agree with the Navy’s decision, but he’s simply trying to defer his service until a later date. He can serve in the Navy all his life; his window of opportunity to play in the NFL is only going to be open for a few years.

  2. As a former Navy guy I have seen lots of benefit from allowing its young stars play professional ball and then serve. It’s a great endorsement of the service and the education and opportunity it provides, and frankly the military gets a more rounded and mature officer in return. No, I do not agree with this decision at all. Like a previous poster, I would feel different if the man didn’t actually want to serve. But part of the reason I got out is that the military can be a little too black and white, even for an officer. The world doesn’t work that way.

    Neither does war btw.

  3. Not easy to understand why the Navy let Malcom Perry defer, but not this guy. Plus I understand he is president of his class, so clearly he’s got a lot on the ball.

  4. This is the army, Mister Jones
    No private rooms or telephones
    You had your breakfast in bed before
    But you won’t have it there any more

  5. Uh, what was the deal he signed up for? This isn’t Arkansas, it’s the Naval academy.

  6. The US military is essentially a giant jobs program, but this is extremely weird, even for them.

  7. I served 27 years in the Navy. I retired as a Master Chief. The young ensign, with all due respect, needs to grow up. You do not always get what you want. If playing in the NFL was one of his dreams, he needed to determine what was important to him, earlier, serving in the Navy or playing ball. It is nice to do both, but often in life you have decide what means more to you. His request was denied. His only response is “Aye, sir.” It is much too bad he believes he is owed a reason.

  8. Here’s hoping that Thomas W. Harper, Acting Secretary, quickly changes his mind

  9. This is hardly a surprise. Deferring his Naval obligation after he’s already accepted the free education from a service academy is impossible. Further, it’s a breech on his part…not the Navy’s. I could understand him trying to serve his obligation in a reserve capacity rather than active duty, but even that’s a rarity. Not even the HOF NBA’er David Robinson was allowed to skate on his obligation. Further, he was more than aware of this before he signed with the Academy. Still further, the fact he’s a NFL calibre talent is purely coincidence as USNA doesn’t attract that kind of talent. It’s crappy situation for the kid, but he knew how this was going to shake out 5 years ago.

  10. How long is this duty deferment supposed to be? His entire NFL career? I do feel sorry for his situation, but sometimes things don’t always go your way.

  11. The Secretary must have put a bundle on the Chiefs last February. The Navy will get a soldier that may have resentment and a lack of focus. Too bad. The kid should get a chance to play out his dream, as long as he keeps his commitment with the Navy if football doesn’t work out.

  12. From what I read, there are four rookies this year who are service academy grads; one from West Point, two from Air Force, and Kinley from Navy. The three other guys had their deferment requests granted.

    Navy granted deferments to Malcolm Perry in 2020 and Keenan Reynolds in 2016. Joe Cardona wasn’t deferred in 2016, but his playing with the Patriots was accommodated via service in the Naval Reserve. Unlike these guys, who were draftees, Kinley was signed as an undrafted free agent. But should that make a difference?

    The whole thing seems odd. If the academies want to attract football players for their teams, this sure won’t help.

  13. NP. Duty first. He signed up knowing the navy is not obligated to allow him to be discharged or to get deferred..

  14. So why would any kid with dreams of playing in the NFL go to Navy? This Is going to hurt Navy recruiting big time.

  15. If the lad wanted to play in the national football league them joining the navy was a poor choice to achieve that goal.

  16. This can only hurt the Navy’s recruiting going forward. A decent prospect who wanted to serve his country will now most likely decide that he can’t risk the Navy benching him and go to a non-service academy. Officers can still get in with a college education, this decision is self defeating.

  17. Sorry, but with a daughter who graduated from the Air Force Academy the US government invests on average over a half million dollars into most of these cadets in exchange for their service to protect America. You can’t just walk away from that obligation. Plus, it means some other young person could have been given that appointment. Young adults that apply to a military academy are often devastated when they learn they haven’t been accepted. Time to own up to your commitment.

  18. Worked out for Roger Staubach. NBA guys were allowed to leave after limited service, because they were too tall. Uncle Sam thinks this kid has a bright future, in the Navy

  19. If he wanted to play ball, he should have gone to Alabama. But he chose to go to Annapolis. His first obligation is to the Navy. The Navy gave him four years of training. Time to pay your dues, midshipman.

  20. He could be a really good advert for the Navy or a cautionary tale for future recruits. If you are a potential talent in football, avoid the Navy academy.

  21. In his defense, he probably didn’t expect to get any attention from the NFL. That obviously wasn’t his first priority.
    However, he was presented with an opportunity and he would like to take advantage of it while that window is open.
    We’re not currently at war. As noted before, he can still have a Naval career.
    I remember when the Navy bent over backwards to let Napoleon McCallum play for the Raiders while still fulfilling his duty.
    Sometimes the Armed Forces act in completely arbitrary ways.

  22. remizak says:
    June 10, 2021 at 7:35 pm
    From what I read, there are four rookies this year who are service academy grads; one from West Point, two from Air Force, and Kinley from Navy. The three other guys had their deferment requests granted.

    This is the reason why I am siding with the young man even though I served and fully get the investment the Navy made in him. Pays back in spades when he finishes a statistically probable short stint in the NFL. Great look for the service, great recruiting spokesman, and as I said earlier, more mature officer in return. Military grows you up fast (mostly) but the human brain doesn’t even mature until you’re 25. I respect all comments but I always take the long view. Helped me to a 27 year career as a senior executive – and I am a massive and vocal supporter of the USN to this day.

  23. As was pointed out above, Roger Staubach dealt with. Can’t speak for other teams, but more recently Chad Hennings in the 90’s had to deal with it before playing for the Cowboys as well. If I signed up with the Navy, I’d hope for the exemption, but I’d still expect it.

  24. This is a bit short sighted by the Navy. He’s an undrafted free agent, so the odds of him making the team are light to begin with. There’s really no harm in getting some free publicity for the Navy while he pursues a spot on the team. If he gets cut out of training camp, then he can begin his career with the Navy- which I’m sure he’s more than ready to begin. Given the success he had as a cadet in the academy with a rigorous academic load and with the football team, he should at least be given a few weeks this summer to see if he can achieve some success in the NFL.

  25. A kid who has a chance to go pro would be a damn fool to sign up with the Navy after seeing this.

  26. That’s not good for recruiting, so it ends up hurting the military. I’d fire the Secretary of the Navy. If he’s hurting our military, he’s weakening our national security. And that’s the last thing we need. Have you seen that new Russian submarine? We need all the recruits we can get.

  27. None of these cadets should be able to defect. Sorry but just cause you play football you can put off your commitment but all the other cadets don’t get that luxury? Is there no place that being a football player doesn’t get you special privileges?. There are IT students at the academy who could make big money on the open market but they have fulfill their commitment. Sorry kid, so do you.

  28. Here’s another way to look at this. The average for NFL players is 3 or 4 years, after that he may spend 20+ in the Navy. If he must serve first, he will get out soon as possible to give the NFL a shot or because he has hard feelings. The Navy may get more from their investment if they let him play first.

  29. At the very least, the Navy should accommodate the kid with the Naval Reserve, the way they have with Joe Cardona and the Patriots. Everybody in New England is well aware that Cardona is a Navy man and how he fits in his reserve service with training and playing. It’s been great publicity for Navy.

  30. They can station him near the team that drafted him usually and allow him to sort of do both..

    That said, I tend to side with the Navy. He got a free education to the Naval Academy, which is also a highly coveted spot. Someone else didn’t get him for him to be there with them. That’s a fact.

    My beef with the armed forces on this is the inconsistency. Either allow it or don’t… but not this situation where one gets it and one doesn’t.

  31. As a career military person, this decision really surprises me. I lived and worked in an environment where established precedent always ruled a given situation where people were concerned. The Navy established a precedent by allowing other players drafted by NFL teams to play then serve. Midshipman Kinley should have been given the same option. The CNO owes this future Naval officer an explanation.

  32. I served in the US Navy for 8+ years. I’ve been paying back my student loans for over 15 years, and have another 10 to go. We all have our issues and circumstances. Hopefully this young man grows through adversity.

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