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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Apparently, the U.S. Army decided that well after they allowed West Point cadet Caleb Campbell to be drafted by the Detroit Lions. They've rightly provoked the ire of Rick Reilly:
And then, the day before camp began, Lions GM Matt Millen called Campbell and his playbook into his office and told him it was all over. The Army was rescinding the policy. Campbell had to report immediately.

Turns out the Army had no business having such a policy. Turns out the Department of Defense insists any service academy athlete who's drafted serve at least two years immediately after graduation, skills or no skills. And those two years can't be at Ford Field. Turns out that when the Navy and Air Force heard that Campbell was getting a special deal, they freaked. Navy's athletic director even called it a "significant" recruiting handicap. Funny, since it was the Navy that allowed former Midshipman Napoleon McCallum to play his rookie year with the L.A. Raiders while stationed at a Long Beach naval base.

2nd Lt. Campbell felt like he was hit in the nose with a shovel. Every day during his four years at West Point, he was reminded of and lived by the Cadet Honor Code: A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do. Instead the Army lied to 2nd Lt. Caleb Campbell. Now he gets to tolerate it.

Not only did they lie to him - they used him:
But here's what stinks. Campbell did go to West Point to lead men into battle, but then he found out he was good enough to play on Sundays. At the end of his sophomore season, he could've transferred out, without penalty, to a big-time football college like Oklahoma or Michigan. But then head coach Bobby Ross told him about the Army's best-of-both-world's policy. Campbell stayed.

So the Army got two more years out of him, and javascript:void(0)all the boffo draft publicity—fans chanting "USA! USA!" at Radio City Music Hall—before it ran him full speed into a brick wall.

What's worse is not that his chances of making the NFL will be unbelievably low after having to serve his stint in the armed forces. What's worse is where 2nd Lt. Campbell may be headed:
Serving as an assistant coach for Army's football team this season, followed by reassignment, perhaps to Iraq or Afghanistan. Which brings up another question Campbell won't ask: "How is coaching football at West Point any more valuable to the war effort than playing it in Detroit?" What could be better for Army morale than 2nd Lt. Campbell starring in the NFL every Sunday and soldiers gathering around TV sets overseas, rooting their boots off for one of their own, secretly relieved he's on a team where losses don't go home in bags?

Not to be morbid, but I sincerely hope he lives to see his NFL dream come true.

I hate that I have to hope that.


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