biggest cheer occurred when the Detroit Lions selected a Safety from Army by the name of Caleb Campbell. In the past when players from the Academies were selected to play in the pros, they still had to server their time, sometimes before they entered the pros.If you watched the NFL Draft this weekend, you will have noticed that the
But now the Army has made exceptions. They are offering theirtop athletes a side door to professional sports. West Point has implemented an alternative service option program that allows cadets to turn pro and play right away. Cadets accepted into the program "will owe two years of active service in the Army, during which time they will be allowed to play their sport in the player-development systems of their respective organizations and be assigned to recruiting stations. If they remain in professional sports following those two years, they will be provided the option of buying out the remaining three years of their active-duty commitment in exchange for six years of reserve time."
On the surface this sounds great for the school and its recruitment process, but there are people (who have loved ones deployed) up in arms; citing special treatment for athletes. If you listen to the podcast you will remember that back in December in the 2007 wrap-up show I had a friend of mine from Seattle sit in and talk college football with me who is an Army Officer. My best-friend, CPT Lou Nemec, recently deployed to Iraq for a 12-15 month tour. I sent him an email yesterday asking his opinion on all of this, and I asked him to talk to some of the people around him and write me a general consensus response back to me and what he wrote is below. One disclaimer, I do not care what your stance is on the war, so any comments regarding that will be deleted.
Cadet drafted since 1997
"Everything is fine here, I just got my own room, so that's a hell of a lot better than the 75 man tent I've been sleeping in while in Kuwait. My thoughts on Caleb Campbell: The Army pays for your education, its their option to have you repay your debt to them however they see fit. If that's leading troops because they deem that's your area of expertise or special skill, that's their choice. If its playing football in the NFL and doing PR tours at local recruiting offices and Army events then that's their choice as well. I think its great for both the Army and West Point to have a player able to go straight into the NFL. The academies have been struggling lately and what better way to showcase that they are still competitive and produce world-class athletes. They already do the same thing with the World Class Athlete Program. Specially talented athletes join the Army and then do nothing but train for their sport leading up to the Olympics and do PR gigs for the Army. Its a mutually beneficial relationship and I see the same thing with Caleb Campbell. While he might make 1 good officer, his notoriety in the NFL might bring 1000 good officers into the Army. The benefits curve is exponential for both parties. Believe me, there are plenty of troops in Iraq doing their time and very few would begrudge Caleb Campbell the opportunity to represent them in the NFL. That's how I feel about that. So thanks for the great question and I'll have you know I've been listening to my podcasts on my IPOD. That thing is great. Alright buddy, take care of yourself and get that golf swing in tune for the summer." LouI know Lou's response does not represent every soldier's but I thought it would be nice to get his opinion. Only time will tell if this does help Army with their recruiting and if Air Force and Navy follow suit with rules like this for their own. But I can tell you this, college football would be a lot better with the likes of Army, Navy, and Air Force contending in the Top 25.