The Political Dimension
The Army policy which gives
On the other side of the political spectrum, the Democrats have two candidates who are promising to withdraw
If a Republican wins – this policy will be dead. If a Democrat wins – this policy will be unnecessary.
Army Needed Better Football Players in 2003-04, Not More Soldiers
Of course the decision to alter this policy will never make its way to
Why look back five years? Well, for those who have never served in the military, let me give you a quick course on how long it takes for a policy like this to go from a draft on somebody's desk to a signature by the Secretary of the Army. It takes FOREVER.
It's important to note this because skeptics will point to the Army's recruiting shortfall in 2005 as the rationale for this policy. Don't kid yourselves. This policy was drafted way before 2005, most likely during a surge in Army recruiting and also during another surge – in Navy football.
If you think it is a coincidence that Navy's manhandling of Army in football came at the same time this policy was making its way from
I must give credit to my colleague at the Times-Herald Record for pointing this ‘coincidence' out, but I think it is necessary to analyze deeper which recruiting problem this policy was supposed to address. The state of recruiting soldiers at the time this memorandum was making its way up the chain of command had not been adversely affected by the wars in
The Navy Point of View
I do have a small problem, though, with the Air Force Academy and Naval Academy both crying foul about this policy now. It has been in effect for over three years, and nobody (at least not me) heard a peep out of either academy regarding a recruiting disadvantage. Perhaps that is because they were both pummeling their rival on the gridiron at the time, and because Army really did not have a player worthy of a look, never mind being drafted, by the NFL. Now that Army has sent four players to the NFL via the draft, free agency or a mini-camp invite, the Naval and Air Force Academies are up in arms.
The Navy does deserve some credit because it is standing by its word to support the Army in its current time of need. In January 2007, Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter cited other services' utilization of its stop loss authority as reason enough to not continue any policy that allows officers to play professional football before their service time is up. Furthermore, active-duty naval officers have confirmed to me that the Navy is filling a lot of Army ground billets in war zones to help out as well.
The Air Force has also said that they have no intention of changing its early release policy.
In the meantime, the Army's solution for its own recruiting problems is to allow its most well-educated officers to play professional football or to compete in American Idol.
A Joint Solution that Delivers Results
Make no mistake the Army is selling this policy as a business decision. However, is it smart business to have Caleb Campbell serve once a week at a recruiting station in
There will still be critics of this joint policy, but if this is a business decision, which is what the Army is trying to pass it off as, then put together a program that will work and deliver real results for all branches of the military.
A Word for the Critics
In the meantime, critics need to stop pointing fingers at the
Does that make me unpatriotic or worthy of some of these other ridiculous insults being directed at Caleb Campbell and Mike Viti just because I would jump at a good deal? No, of course not – it makes me human…and perhaps a little insane for wanting to rake dirt and roll out tarp when it rains, but if you don't like my dream, get your own. Then, ask yourself if you wouldn't follow it if someone dropped it into your lap and said, ‘here you go.'
I was disappointed with Navy senior fullback Adam Ballard, who recently questioned the manhood of the NFL-bound cadets. What if the Navy changes its policy next year and an NFL team drafts his teammate, rising senior fullback Eric Kettani? Would Ballard criticize him as well? Perhaps, Ballard may rethink his own decision and make a few calls around the NFL if the Navy's policy changes. I mean if Kettani could get a look, there is no doubt Ballard, who will be in pretty good shape 11 months from now, would interest plenty of scouts.
Personally if I was a Navy or Air Force football player, if asked about Campbell and Viti, I'd publicly say, "Good for them." And then, later on, I'd have fun telling stories to my troops and Sailors about the day in December when we destroyed an Army team full of NFL-bound players on the football field. But that's just me.
A Word for the NFL-bound Cadets
If any Army player makes an NFL roster, they will be guaranteed a starting salary of $295,000. And since they are all on active duty with the U.S. Army, that means they are also entitled to basic pay and allowances for a second lieutenant. For example, Caleb Campbell would be entitled to collect an additional $48,713.52 from Uncle Sam which includes his housing allowance for the
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