Campbell was taken by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. While past pro prospects from the service academies were forced to serve a military commitment before being cleared to play pro football, Campbell was going to benefit from a new rule.
In the past, athletes from West Point were required to serve five years of active duty in the military before they could begin their professional careers, but military rules have changed, and cadets with the ability to play sports professionally are now allowed to do so while helping out with recruiting efforts for two years.However, in a surprising and poorly-timed flip-flop akin to a political campaign, Campbell has been informed that he will not be allowed to play for the Lions this season. Or next.
In a letter to Lions president Matt Millen dated Wednesday, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jonathan P. Liba wrote that Campbell has been ordered to give up professional football for "full-time traditional military duties."If I'm Millen, I'm livid about this.
Liba wrote that 2nd Lt. Campbell may ask to be released from his active duty obligations in May 2010.
Liba said Campbell was allowed to enter the draft "in good faith."
Yes, Campbell was a seventh-round pick, and he was probably a better bet to make the practice squad than he was to be a significant player for the Lions this season. That's not the point here.
The point is that the military allowed Campbell to enter the draft, allowed the Lions to choose him, and then pulled the rug out from under both.
As a result, a player who could have taken Campbell's roster spot through the minicamps and organized practices earlier this summer is instead unemployed. Not only that, but the Lions, who invested many hours into preparing Campbell for his first NFL training camp, are now short a safety at a time where it could be difficult to find one of NFL caliber.
Frankly, the Lions should be allowed to seek financial restitution from the military, in the amount of whatever it costs to sign a player for Campbell's spot on the roster.
Just because the military is a part of our government doesn't mean they have to act like the snakes who run our government.