Memphian’s dreams of playing in the NFL and serving his country denied by Navy

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s been a wave of emotions for Cameron Kinley.

“I’m lucky to be here with my family in Memphis but it’s definitely been rough,” Cameron Kinley said.

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He was at minicamp for the Tampa Bay Bucs last month before introducing Vice President Kamala Harris as the Naval Academy’s graduating class president.

Kinley thought his football dreams would continue only to find out his request to delay his commission was denied by the secretary of the Navy.

“To have somebody take that away from you, childhood dream, it’s not easy for anybody to deal with so I was definitely hurt,” he said.

There is a policy in place that allows academy student-athletes to delay commissions to pursue professional athletic careers.

Kinley said a player from West Point and three from Air Force had their requests approved.

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He said he wasn’t given a reason why he was denied.

“At the end of the day, it was his discretion,” he said. “He doesn’t owe me an explanation. But I think that would give me a sense of peace if I understood.”

Kinley said he just wants his story to create consistency for future grads with dreams to compete professionally and serve.

“It’s important for me to clear the air that I was never trying to get out of my commitment,” he said. “I was never trying to not serve. I was just a young African American male who had the opportunity to fulfill two dreams of playing in the NFL and serving as an officer in the United States Navy.”

FOX13 reached out to the spokesperson for the secretary of the Navy for comment and was given the statement:

“Admission to the Naval Academy is an extensive and competitive process. The mission of the Naval Academy is to develop young men and women to commission as officers in the Navy or Marine Corps. When students accept admission and continue their education in this program, 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. Following discussions with senior Department of Navy leadership and in accordance with existing Department of Defense policy, acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker, declined to forward requests from recent Naval Academy graduates to the Secretary of Defense, seeking to delay their commissions.”

U.S. Senator Maraco Rubio is urging POTUS to grant Kinley a waiver to play in the NFL.

On June 20 he sent a letter to President Biden that reads in part:

“In years past, the U.S. Department of Defense has issued many waivers to allow athletes to temporarily delay their service to our nation to pursue their professional sports dreams,” Rubio wrote. “Unfortunately, Mr. Kinley seems to be the exception, and without reason.” “Mr. Kinley is not seeking to terminate his commitment to the Navy,” Rubio continued. “He wishes to promote service to our great nation from one of the country’s largest stages. I implore you to right this wrong.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.