SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A Navy graduate who drew national attention after his dreams of playing in the National Football League were put on pause due to his military duties.
Captain Cameron Kinley was denied his request to delay his military service to play in the NFL. Western Mass News got answers on why he was rejected and how Kinley is responding.
Cameron Kinley was not only a star football player for the Naval Academy but the Navy's 2021 class president, who graduated in May. He signed with the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted rookie Cornerback and attended the team's rookie minicamp two weeks ago, just to find out he is not allowed to play with the team.
"It's tough, it's tough to deal with. I don't know why it's happening to me but there's definitely a greater purpose that I don't understand yet," Kinley said.
Frustration and confusion stirred from the Naval Academy Cornerback star, after his plans to pursue to NFL, changed in an instant.
"I just got done completing rookie minicamp and a week of workouts and then that Sunday, May 23, I flew back into Annapolis for commissioner week and then on Tuesday... They informed me that the secretary of Navy declined my package to delay my commission to play in the NFL," Kinley told Western Mass News.
The 2021 Navy Class President requested to delay his commission to play in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a request made possible for athletes who attend service academies. An option former President Donald Trump opened for athletes to do so once they graduate.
Four graduates from other service academies have been allowed to pursue their NFL dreams, foregoing their service commitment this year. But not Kinley and he doesn't understand why.
"It's tough, I don't really know, I remember when he sat me down and told me, he was like, 'that's really it, there's that to it,' no really explanation and he was like, 'there is not going to be an appeal process.' So when he first told me no, I was automatically like 'okay, I am going to appeal this and see if I can get it overturned,' and then the next sentence he was like, 'There won't be an appeal process,' and that's when I was like, oh, okay," Kinley explained.
A Navy spokesman issued a statement to CNN saying in part: "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."
Western mass news spoke to former Military Lieutenant Colonel and American International College Professor Gary Lefort, who said the request does not necessarily mean approval.
"It wasn't a given, it was sort of a right to request. But it is up to the service of secretaries to make the decision, based on their mission needs, as to rather or not they want to approve the request," Lefort said.
And why Lefort thinks the navy said no to Kinley: "I would not be surprised if this decision was significantly influenced by the expanded global mission that the U.S. Navy has today and the deployment of the ships abroad in the rotation requirements that they have."