Pentagon permits Navy soccer captain to postpone responsibility to play within the NFL

Navy Midshipmen cornerback Cameron Kinley celebrates during an NCAA soccer game at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, MD.

Daniel Kucin Jr. | Sportswire icon | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Tuesday approved a plan to enable former Naval Academy football player Cameron Kinley to pursue a career in the NFL.

“At the end of his season, we look forward to welcoming him back to the ranks as a naval officer,” Austin wrote in a statement. “I applaud the Navy leadership for demonstrating both Cameron’s athletic prowess and the quality and professionalism of our student-athletes and staff,” added Austin.

The Navy had previously denied Kinley’s request to postpone active duty to play in the NFL.

“I am confident that Cameron will represent the Navy well in the NFL, just as he did as an outstanding athlete and class president at the Naval Academy,” President Joe Biden wrote in a statement. He added, “After his NFL career is over, he will continue to make us proud as officers in the United States Navy.”

Austin’s repentance means Kinley, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted rookie cornerback, can now attend the team’s training camp later this month.

“I am very grateful for Secretary of State Austin’s decision and am delighted to represent our excellent military in the National Football League,” Kinley wrote in a statement.

The former captain of the U.S. Navy Midshipmen soccer team also thanked several lawmakers, including Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., For their support.

“Lastly, I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Organization for believing in me and for being patient with me throughout this process. I’m excited to be working again with my teammates in Tampa Bay, ”added Kinley.

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