During the last football draft, I was puzzled by the Detroit Lions’ decision to draft defensive back Caleb Campbell from Army. I was puzzled because, well, I figured the guy had this commitment to the military that he had to fulfill – you know, with him being a West Point grad and a soldier I thought his services might be more important over in George Bush’s little Iraq quagmire than they would be helping the Lions to another in a long string of losing seasons.
But I was wrong as the Army said they would let Campbell skip out on his service; instead he would play football and serve as a recruiter – he would find other suckers to go out and die while his only worry would be making sure he wasn’t burnt on a Rex Grossman bomb.
I was a bit pissed about this as I didn’t see why some jock should get a special dispensation like this. After all, it’s not as if I was ever the world’s biggest Roger Staubach fan, but damn, he did his time in Vietnam before joining up with the Cowboys. And baseball players like Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Joe Dimaggio and Bob Feller missed out on lots of professional playing time so that they could fulfill their military obligations.
The Army actually took a bit of a public relations hit over this, and the Navy and the Air Force weren’t too happy about the Army’s decision. So back around the first of July, the Army changed its mind, and this Wednesday, after he had been issued his Detroit Lions helmet, and as he was suiting up for his first Lions training camp practice, he was called into his coach's office and informed of the new rule change which won't allow him to play professional football until he's fulfilled his military commitment. As of now, Campbell will be serving as an assistant football coach at West Point or the U.S. Military Academy’s prep school in New Jersey until he is handed his next Army assignment.
I’ve got nothing against Caleb Campbell. And I’m sorry that he can’t fulfill his dream of playing pro football. But if you go to a military academy, you should expect to serve out your military obligation first. – John Royal
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