May 14, 2021; Tampa Bay, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers corner back Cameron Kinley (26) practices during rookie mini-camp at AdventHealth Training Center Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Pentagon says Bucs rookie can attend training camp

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has granted permission for Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie cornerback Cameron Kinley to attend training camp, the player’s agents announced Tuesday.

The 2021 Naval Academy graduate’s initial request to delay his military service was denied on June 7, prompting U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and others to appeal to President Joe Biden and other officials in Washington on Kinley’s behalf.

“I am extremely appreciative of Secretary Austin’s decision and I am excited to represent our fine military in the National Football League,” Kinley said in a statement released by his agents at Divine Sports and Entertainment. “This past month has been very challenging and I am thankful for everyone who has supported me in any way.”

Kinley was a starter at cornerback and the Naval Academy class president in his senior season. He was not selected in the 2021 NFL Draft and signed a free-agent contract with the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers.

–Field Level Media

May 14, 2021; Tampa Bay, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers corner back Cameron Kinley (26) practices during rookie mini-camp at AdventHealth Training Center Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Sen. Marco Rubio asks for military delay for Bucs’ rookie

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) is appealing to President Joe Biden and other Washington officials, asking them to allow Naval Academy graduate Cameron Kinley to delay his military service and pursue an NFL career.

Kinley was a starter at cornerback and the Naval Academy class president in his senior season, but went undrafted and accepted a free-agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His request to be allowed to play this season with the Bucs was denied on June 7.

Kinley is due to report Monday, as things stand.

“Here’s the bottom line. People got to do it last year,” Rubio said on “Fox & Friends.” “There are people playing in the NFL now — Malcolm Perry, that came out of Navy, plays for the Miami Dolphins — so last year they were allowed. So this sounds arbitrary … He’s not saying he’s not going to do his service. He will.”

Instead of lining up against Tom Brady in training camp, Kinley could be an ensign and serving as an information warfare officer.

“It’s definitely tough,” Kinley said Tuesday on “Fox & Friends.” “Kinda living a double life where I’m preparing to be an NFL player still just in case things get reversed and I’m also preparing for my career as an officer in the Navy.”

On Sunday, Rubio sent a letter to Biden asking for his assistance.

“Mr. Kinley is not seeking to terminate his commitment to the Navy. Far from it. He wishes to promote service to our great nation from one of the country’s largest stages. I implore you to right this wrong,” Rubio said.

“Grant Mr. Kinley’s waiver to play in the NFL, and send a message to future academy graduates that the United States is a country where Americans can follow their dreams and be true to their commitment.”

Kinley said he has passion for both careers.

“I definitely made the commitment … and I’m still willing to honor that commitment,” Kinley said. “I just want to be able to delay my commission to play in the NFL first and be that ambassador for the Navy and help recruit. And after my time in the NFL, go serve as an officer in the Navy. I’m definitely looking forward to that career.”

–Field Level Media

May 14, 2021; Tampa Bay, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers corner back Cameron Kinley (26) practices during rookie mini-camp at AdventHealth Training Center Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Navy denies Bucs CB Cameron Kinley’s delay request

The U.S. Navy has denied a request by cornerback Cameron Kinley to delay his service duty in order to try to make the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster.

Kinley was a starter at corner and the Naval Academy class president in his senior season, but went undrafted and accepted a free-agent contract with the Super Bowl champs.

While he had hoped to make the team’s cornerback rotation, he’ll instead join the Navy as an ensign and serve as an information warfare officer.

Kinley’s agent, Ryan Williams-Jenkins, is also a former Naval Academy grad and spoke out about the decision.

“As a Naval Academy graduate, football player and decorated combat veteran I understand Cameron’s commitment,” his statement begins. “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.”

–Field Level Media