Cameron Kinley, the former United States Naval Academy team captain and class president who has spent minicamp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had his request to delay his commission in order to play in the NFL denied. Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker denied Kinley's request, and according to Divine Sports and Entertainment, the Navy is also denying Kinley the ability to appeal the decision.
"As a Naval Academy graduate, football player, and decorated combat veteran I understand Cameron's commitment," Divine Sports and Entertainment co-founder Ryan Williams-Jenkins said in a statement. "I also understand there are ways he can fulfill his commitment while representing the Navy and playing professional sports. I played with three-time Super Bowl 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."
In 2017, the Department of Defense barred players from delaying their commissions. The policy was reversed in 2019, though, and some players were allowed exemptions. Former Army linebacker Jon Rhattigan, for instance, signed with the Seattle Seahawks after the draft and said he has been cleared to remain with the team. In addition, Air Force offensive lineman Nolan Laufenberg was allowed to sign with the Denver Broncos, and his former teammate, defensive tackle George Silvanic, was allowed to sign with the Los Angeles Rams.
It is not immediately clear why Rhattigan, Laufenberg, and Silvanic's request for delayed commission were granted and Kinley's was not.