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Navy denies NFL rookie Cameron Kinley's request to delay commission to play for Tampa Bay

Navy denies NFL rookie Cameron Kinley's request to delay commission to play for Tampa Bay
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The Navy has denied a newly commissioned midshipman's request to delay his active-duty service to play in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rookie cornerback Cameron Kinley, a U.S. Naval Academy team captain and class president who graduated last week, had his request to delay his commission denied, according to a personal statement he posted to Twitter on Monday.

“I have spent the past week processing my emotions, as it is very difficult to have been this close to achieving a childhood dream and having it taken away from me,” Kinley said. “I look forward to my career as a naval officer. ... However, I am deserving of an opportunity to live out another one of my life-long dreams before fulfilling my service requirement.”

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Kinley referenced former Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military | Military guns go missing | New White House strategy to battle domestic extremism Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military: 'We are not weak' Cotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military MORE’s 2019 memo, signed at the direction of former President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE, to allow athletes at the service academies to play professional sports immediately upon graduation.

Prior to that, Pentagon policy allowed athletes to obtain a waiver to play pro sports after serving two years on active duty.

Kinley also pointed out other service members who have been allowed to postpone their service to play NFL football, including West Point's Jon Rhattigan, who signed with the Seattle Seahawks, and airmen Nolan Laufenberg, George Silvanic and Parker Ferguson, who signed with the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams and New York Jets, respectively.

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"While I acknowledge that these men are from different branches of the armed services, it puzzles me as to why I am the only person to be denied this opportunity," he wrote.

He added that he "hopes that this situation will soon be overturned and that I can get back to competing on the field and representing the U.S. Navy."

Divine Sports and Entertainment said in a statement that Kinley cannot appeal the Navy’s decision, which was not explained.

The Navy had previously given Kinley permission to sign as an undrafted free agent with the Buccaneers as well as participate in the team's rookie minicamp.

Capt. J. Dorsey, a spokesperson for acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker, said in a statement to The Hill that admission to the Naval Academy is "an extensive and competitive process" and when students accept admission "there is an understanding and acknowledgement that they will upon graduation be commissioned." 

"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," Dorsey said. 

Following discussions with senior Navy leadership and in taking into account existing Pentagon policy, Harker "declined to forward requests from recent Naval Academy graduates to the Secretary of Defense, seeking to delay their commissions."

Updated at 10:31 a.m. on June 8