TAMPA — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has asked President Joe Biden to issue a waiver so Naval academy graduate Cameron Kinley can delay his military service to play for the Buccaneers.
When defensive back Kinley was being recruited out of high school by the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., he was assured he could still pursue his dream of playing in the NFL like other members of the team.
But the request by the undrafted Bucs free agent to have his commission delayed was denied by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker. Kinley said he was given no written explanation, even though a Midshipmen teammate was allowed to delay his commission a year earlier and four players from other service academies have signed with NFL teams this year
On Sunday, Rubio posted at his web page a letter he said he wrote to Biden asking that the president give Kinley a chance, too.
“I write to you, as our Commander in Chief, on an issue of great unfairness,” the letter begins.
“In years past,” Rubio wrote, “the U.S. Department of Defense has issued many waivers to allow athletes to temporarily delay their service to our nation to pursue their professional sports dreams. Unfortunately, Mr. Kinley seems to be the exception, and without reason.”
Rubio reiterates Kinley’s pledge in a letter to another senator that he is not asking to set aside his commitment to the Navy, but aiming to use his time in the NFL to “promote service, respect for the armed services and show young men that they can succeed in the most demanding professions, no matter their background.”
Kinley was the U.S. Naval Academy’s 2021 class president and captain of the football team. He gave a speech and introduced Vice President Kamala Harris during a commencement ceremony last week.
The news that Harker had denied Kinley’s request to delay his commission came earlier this month, just a day before Kinley was expected to report to the Bucs’ mandatory, full-squad minicamp.
Kinley was permitted to train and participate in a Pro Day at the Naval Academy and was allowed to attend a Rookie Minicamp with the Buccaneers.
“I implore you to right this wrong,” Rubio wrote.