The U.S. Navy has denied recent graduate Cameron Kinley a waiver that would have delayed his commission and allowed the cornerback a chance to compete for a spot with the Super Bowl–winning Buccaneers.
After serving as Navy team captain and class president in his senior year, Kinley went undrafted in April's NFL Draft. The Bucs signed the defensive back as a free agent. Kinley was in Tampa for rookie minicamp but was not present for two weeks of voluntary OTA workouts while waiting for a decision on the waiver.
"Recently, I was informed that my request to delay my service in order to play in the NFL was denied by the Secretary of the Navy," Kinley said in a statement. "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.
"... I look forward to my career as a naval officer in the information warfare community. However, I am deserving of the opportunity to live out another one of my life-long dreams before fulfilling my service requirement."
The request is generally granted for service academy graduates vying for a spot on an NFL roster and goes against recent precedent that has seen Army linebacker Jon Rhattigan (Seahawks) and Air Force graduates Nolan Laufenberg (Broncos), Parker Ferguson (Jets) and George Silvanic (Rams) allowed to participate this summer in rookie minicamps.
"If there is a directive and precedent allowing other service academy athletes to pursue this opportunity, what makes Cameron different?" Kinsley's representative, Ryan Williams-Jenkins, said in a statement. "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."
Kinley recently made headlines for giving a commencement speech at the Naval Academy's graduation ceremony at the end of May, where he also introduced U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. He is expected to be commissioned into the Navy’s information warfare department.
Kinley also received interest from the Chiefs after going undrafted. The cornerback told the Tampa Bay Times he chose the Bucs due to a family connection to coaches in the organization. His father was a college teammate of Bucs linebackers coach Mike Caldwell at Middle Tennessee State while Kinley’s older brother, Jonathan Brown, played under Bucs head coach Bruce Arians with the Cardinals.
However, Kinley's agent confirmed that the U.S Navy has denied the chance to appeal the decision.
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