Sports

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Army Football Player Will Go to NFL, Not Iraq

April 29, 2008 09:48 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
West Point cadet Caleb Campbell is the first football player to take advantage of an Army policy that allows high-profile graduates to defer active service.

30-Second Summary

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Campbell, a star safety for the Army Black Knights football team, was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round of this weekend’s NFL draft. In doing so, he qualifies for the Army’s alternate service policy and is able to defer his active service commitment.

According to the policy, West Point graduates who sign a professional contract that “provides recruiting/public affairs benefits” may choose to postpone active service. They must spend two years as a recruiter and then either return to active service or refund a portion of their educational expenses and agree to six years in the Selected Reserve.

Instituted in 2005, the policy has been applied to just four cadets—all athletes. Campbell is the first football player and by far the most high profile.

Campbell is the latest in a long line of accomplished athletes from military academies. Most, however, never play professional sports. The most notable exception is 1963 Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach, who served in Vietnam before starting his Hall of Fame NFL career.

In the 1980s, Navy briefly allowed Napoleon McCallum to play in the NFL while serving. After just one season, the Navy ruled that the demands of the NFL were preventing McCallum from fulfilling his duties, and rescinded his right to play.

Headline Link: Lions draft Campbell

Background: Caleb Campbell and the Army’s alternate service policy

Historical Context: Military athletes

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