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Campbell loses shot to play on Sunday

July 23, 2008


Caleb Campbell was the first non-kicker from Army to be invited to the NFL combine, and due to a 2005 ruling he was eligible to serve as a recruiter if he had made the team. Here is a press release from around the time of the draft.


"In years past, military athletes had little hope of playing professional
football due to their commitment to the service upon graduation. Army recently
revised those requirements, leaving the door open for Campbell and other Cadets
to pursue their dream of playing in the National Football League.
What Army
has done is offer its top athletes a side door to professional sports. West
Point has implemented an alternative service option program that allows cadets
to turn pro — and play — right away. Cadets accepted into the program "will owe
two years of active service in the Army, during which time they will be allowed
to play their sport in the player-development systems of their respective
organizations and be assigned to recruiting stations. If they remain in
professional sports following those two years, they will be provided the option
of buying out the remaining three years of their active-duty commitment in
exchange for six years of reserve time."



Campbell was a 7th round draft pick of the Detroit Lions and had a pretty good shot at making the team. Today Matt Millen received a letter from U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jonathan P. Liba , according to the letter Campbell has been ordered to give up professional football for "full-time traditional military duties". Liba also added Campbell was allowed to enter the draft "in good faith". This coming due to a recent change of the Department of Defense policy, he will not get his chance to play on Sunday.


The Lions had agreed to contract terms with Campbell on a three-year deal, the Lions opted not to have him sign the contract. Lions chief operating officer Tom Lewand said the decision was made to give the team "maximum flexibility.'' (Campbell would not have been paid any portion of the contract until he made the final 53-man roster.)


The Lions retain Campbell's rights until the draft next year and can sign him at any point up until then. If he's not selected by a team in the 2009 draft, Campbell becomes a free agent. Under the current rules, Campbell would be eligible to play pro sports after fulfilling two years of active duty.


I believe the Army has missed out on a fantastic opportunity to showcase one of their many talented servicemen. As a recruiter he would serve proudly and be a fantastic role model for children across the US. He would also boost the recruitment of high school players to come to West Point.
As an Army alum, and I am positive he will serve the Army and the country with great pride and valor. Good luck Caleb.

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