Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Thanks to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, we bring you an update on the saga of former Army S Caleb Campbell.

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."

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."
If I'm Millen, I'm livid about this.

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.


Runninwiththedogs said...

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone who got a free education from the service academies could decide whether or not they wanted to honor the commitments they made?
I love you, Bruce, but you're way off the mark here. It shouldn't be surprising to anyone that the Army had a change of plans. IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME IN THE MILITARY. People's tours of duty in Iraq are extended when they were "promised" they would be home at a certain time. People miss the births of their children and years in the lives of their families. They miss weddings, funerals, reunions. They don't come home at all. This is the nature of the beast, not some insidious political move as you imply. Boo hoo, some guy misses the chance for his first NFL training camp.
If he had any honor or integrity at all, he would be proud to serve his country and he would return to pro sports after his commitment was completed (it's not like he couldn't stay in shape). If he wanted to play D-1 football as a springboard to the NFL, perhaps he should have chosen a different school.

Bruce Ciskie said...


It's pretty sad that we're going to hold a kid who's 18 years old when he signs his military commitment to a higher standard than the freaking Department of Defense.

Caleb Campbell has to stick to the word he gave when he was a teenager, even though the circumstances of his life changed dramatically in four years (he had no serious NFL aspirations when he started college), but the government can flip-flop all it wants?

It might be how the military operates, but that doesn't make it right.

I have no problem with holding Campbell to his word and his signed agreement, but it would have been nice if the DoD had done that from the start. That's my only beef. Sorry you think it's okay because they "always do that".

Furthermore, Campbell told a newspaper that he was at West Point and met with officers a week ago, after the military had decided to change this policy back. Instead of notifying him of this change when it was made on July 8, they chose to wait until mere hours before training camp was set to start.

It's no wonder most of this country doesn't trust the government.

Bruce Ciskie said...

Oh, and this wonderfully important duty Campbell will be performing this year?

He's going to be a graduate assistant for the Army football team.

What a freaking disgrace.

Runninwiththedogs said...

It's just so petty compared to the real sacrifices people make. It's just how life in the military is, and you'd have to be an idiot not to expect to get dicked around a few times in the military, and my god he should have seen it coming. He should be glad he's going to be a grad assistant, what a cushy job. Meanwhile his fellow cadets are commissioning and getting shipped off to wherever; why should he live it up in the NFL (assuming he made the team) and make a commercial or two? I think the "exemption" rule is stupid and unfair, and the right choice is to make him fulfill a REAL commitment, whatever it might be. What if I'm a supergenius in engineering (which I am)? Then can't I just replace a few lightbulbs every once in awhile and get an honorable discharge?

Anonymous said...

what's worse about all this is that the army is in a sense forcing caleb's classmates and so-called "friends" to take sides (and sadly, many of them have taken the army's side, if they were true friends they would all have just walked out in protest of that decision