Navy declines Cameron Kinley’s request to delay service for NFL dream

“I am deserving of the opportunity to live out another one of my life-long dreams before fulfilling my service requirement,” Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback and Naval Academy graduate Cameron Kinley wrote in a statement.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback, 2021 Naval Academy graduate, and class president Cameron Kinley has been denied permission to play in the NFL this year. Kinley was signed to the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent and trained at the team’s minicamp in May, CNN reports. 

In an official statement tweeted on Monday, Kinley went on the defense saying that he intends to fulfill his commitment to serve but cited what he believed to be an unfair application of Navy policies. 

“I am very aware of the commitment I made to service when I first arrived at the United States Naval Academy. I look forward to my career as a naval officer in the information warfare community. However, I am deserving of the opportunity to live out another one of my life-long dreams before fulfilling my service requirement,” wrote Kinley. 

In the statement, Kinley also referenced a 2019 Secretary of Defense policy titled DTM-19-011 which grants graduates of military service academies to participate in professional sports prior to their service appointment. 

Cameron Kinley
Naval Academy graduate Cameron Kinley (Source: Navy Sports)

Kinley also pointed to four other athletes who have benefited from the policy: West Point graduate and Seattle Seahawks linebacker Jon Rhattigan, Air Force Academy graduate and Denver Broncos guard Nolan Laufenberg, Air Force Academy graduate and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle George Silvanic, and Air Force Academy graduate and New York Jets tackle Parker Ferguson. 

In addition to the delay request denial, Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker declined to forward Kinley’s request to the Department of Defense; Kinley was also denied an appeal on the decision, according to CNN

“When students accept admission and continue their education in this program, there is an understanding and acknowledgement that they will upon graduation be commissioned,” Capt. Jereal Dorsey wrote in a statement sent to CNN. “Every Midshipman attends on the same terms and each has the same responsibility to serve. Exceptions to that commitment to serve have been rightfully rare.”

On Monday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released a statement saying, “Cameron Kinley is an exceptional young man and a shining example of the type of high-character individuals that make our nation’s military the most elite in the world.” The statement continued, “We appreciate and support the United States Naval Academy’s position with regards to Cameron’s fulfillment of his post-graduate service commitment and remain hopeful that he will one day have an opportunity to also fulfill his dreams of playing professional football.”  

Kinley is being represented by the sports agency Divine Sports & Entertainment and has written a letter to Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn asking for support, WFLA reports. On Tuesday afternoon, Kinley tweeted again in appreciation of his supporters. 

“Thank you for all of the support. I truly appreciate it. It’s in God’s hands and I’m at peace knowing that He has a plan for all of this.”

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