Kinley, a recent graduate of the Naval Academy, told ESPN that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called him personally to give him the news.
“I was just in shock that I was on the phone with the Secretary of Defense,” Kinley said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “But he informed me that he had made the decision to reverse the ruling and he was happy he made the decision. He said this was the correct decision and that he’s just looking forward to me taking advantage of it.”
Kinley had previously been told he would be required to begin his military service immediately. That came as a surprise, as the Pentagon has generally allowed service academy graduates who are aspiring pro athletes to delay their service until their athletic careers are over.
Eventually, the Pentagon let Kinley play as well. He realizes, however, that he’s no lock to make the Buccaneers’ roster, and he’ll have to have an impressive training camp to be on the team.
“It’s kind of the mindset that I’ve had since I began playing the game of football,” Kinley said. “Don’t let anybody outwork you, and give 110 percent. So I’m excited about it. I definitely have a chip on my shoulder.”
Kinley will serve as an active-duty Navy officer eventually, but he hopes that’s after a long career in the NFL.