The orders came from the very top: Navy Secretary John Lehman and
Admiral Carlisle Trost, chief of Naval operations, decided that one
of the lowest ranking commissioned officers in the military could
sign a contract valued at more than $2 million. The contract
specifies that Ensign Napoleon McCallum will play football for the
Los Angeles Raiders, but its details are hazier than L.A. smog.
There is a $700,000 signing bonus, although McCallum, who broke all
Navy rushing records during his career at Annapolis, will collect
only $100,000 until he actually plays a regular-season game for L.A.
The contract is for four years, but that could start this fall or it
could start in 1991, when McCallum's military duty has been
discharged. ''Most of his contract is contingent on him playing for
us, of course,'' says Steve Ortmayer, Raiders director of football
operations. ''We had to sign him to protect our interests. He would
go back into the draft (next year) if we didn't.''
Raiders owner Al Davis may win yet another gamble. The Navy has
already assigned McCallum to duty aboard the U.S.S. Peleliu, which
won't shove off from nearby Long Beach Naval Shipyard until after
the running back -- ummm, the ensign -- has finished his assignment
in January. Navy brass, who are keenly aware of the public-relations
value of McCallum wearing two uniforms, have also granted him 30 days
leave beginning this week. The vacation neatly coincides with the
Raiders' training camp. ''Ensign McCallum will have the option to
use his normal leave and off-duty time to train with the L.A. Raiders
if he wants,'' says Lieutenant Commander Steve Honda, information
officer for the Navy in Los Angeles. Honda also says, ''It's not
contemplated that he'll play in any National Football League games,''
but Commander Kendell Pease, a Navy spokesman in Washington, won't
rule out the possibility. ''That decision will be up to his
commanding officer,'' he says.
Raiders coach Tom Flores says, ''You want your players here for
every practice session, every meeting, every film review.'' But what
if McCallum could arrange to attend the heaviest workouts, on
Wednesday and Thursday? ''That would be an absolute minimum,'' Flores
says, visions of a McCallum- Marcus Allen backfield no doubt dancing
in his head.
This is an article from the July 21, 1986 issue