Home / It’s Dishonorable For Army Cadets To Play Football

It’s Dishonorable For Army Cadets To Play Football

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Well, those aren't my words. And technically they're not really MLive's Bill Simonson's words either. But they're damn close when paraphrasing what he thinks about the story of Caleb Campbell.

Campbell is a West Point cadet who is quite skilled at the game of football. So skilled, in fact, that the Detroit Lions selected him in the seventh round, 218th overall of the NFL draft. He became the first Army cadet to be picked in the NFL since 1997.

But he still has to complete his service, right? Well, yes, and he will. But it won't be in the form of overseas deployment. The U.S. Armed Forces enacted a new policy stating that if an athlete is able to play professionally, he can complete his commitment with the army by serving as a recruiter during the offseason, instead of going overseas. To steal the AP's summation: "If his [NFL] career lasts more than two seasons, he will have the option of buying out the last three years of his active-duty commitment in exchange for six years in the reserves."

Getting drafted … to avoid military service.

He's the first person to be affected by this new policy. And even on the surface, it's a tricky subject. The primordial non-PC impression one initially gets is that, well, getting out of going to war is a good thing, and he beat the system. Then the mammalian brain kicks in. "All his friends and classmates have to go to Afghanistan and Iraq, but he doesn't, because he's good at football."

And because it's highly scientific and such, it's worth mentioning that just over half (52%) of about 3,000 respondents in a USA Today online poll said that Campbell should have to fulfill his service commitment, rather than play pro football. They're missing a big part of this. He won't be playing pro football. He'll be playing for the Lions. (Hey! Tip your waiters. Thank you, you've been great.)

All right, but after hearing Campbell speak on ESPN at the NFL Draft, it sounds like the Army is using Campbell not only as a recruiter in the offseason, but also during football season. Campbell also said he received letters from soldiers overseas who were uplifted by his story and his potential to play on the fictional battlefield on Sundays.

Back to MLive's Bill Simonson. Using Pat Tillman and Schulyer Williamson as contrasting examples of men who shunned sports for service, Simonson basically questioned Campbell's character, leadership skills, and honor after he chose to play football instead of going to war.

It looks like Simonson was using his instinctual reaction to formulate the column. Judging by his other sports pieces, he prides himself by taking sharp, unforgiving stances on sports topics and essentially going there and saying that! And Simonson might know what's best for the Army, but you know who else might know what's best for the Army? The Army. This was their policy, their call, and if they think they need an image touch-up using Campbell as a recruitment tool, then let's just go out on a limb and say that's probably what they should do. Furthermore, Campbell wants to lead soldiers on the field. He said so himself at the NFL Draft. And since the average NFL career is no more than about three years, there's no reason he can't do that once his football days are over.

And let's not forget, he'll be playing in Detroit. So either way he might be needing body armor.

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About Suss

  • Campbell IS serving, just not on front lines. Not everybody does. The cchoice of who to send has a good deal to do with designated specialty. Infantry, for example, will be one of the first teams called up. So will medical teams.

  • I could be wrong, but from what I’ve heard, all USMA graduates get immediately deployed.

  • “there’s no reason he can’t do that once his football days are over.”

    The govt can do as they wish as he is their property now, but there are a few reasons why he couldn’t complete his service. Ask the Bills Kevin Everett. Certainly rare, but still possible.

  • Geez, remember, we are dealing with Iraq. If the NFL will keep him out of that scene, that is a good thing.

    If he gets cut, go immediately to the Canadian Football League!!!! There may not be a draft nowadays, but there still is the dodging a FU’d military deal.

    take off,

  • And further more… Pat Tillman, who has local ties (Seattle area region) was killed by ‘friendly’ fire in that whole Afghanastan (sp?) deal.

    I mean, this is a deal where one chooses a career and education (West Point in this case) and times things change where the future of it all does not look too good. Example: I was a pre-med student back in the 70s. But after a bit I did not like the looks of the future of the industry. I bailed. Glad I made the call on that issue!.

    Plus, he (Caleb Simonson) did stand out in football there. Good move dude! Career choice…had to make a decision. I say he made the right one.


  • Tony

    I’m very against the war and am glad the kid isn’t joining the slaughter but the fact is, this rule is wrong.

    Had he been drafted Vietnam style, AGAINST HIS WILL, I would have far less of a problem here. While he still would be receiving special treatment based on athletic prowless, at least he would not he negating a responsibility that he, himself, signed up for.

    When you decide to go to West Point, especially in a time of war, you know the ramifications. He made a personal choice and he should have to deal with the consequences of that choice.

    I’m sure many a cadet, after witnessing the senseless slaughter first hand, wishes he had won the genetic lottery (thanks Jim Rome) and had a chance to get out of that mess by playing sports.

    As far as his working as a recruiter, it makes me want to vomit that this guy, who got out of the kill spree by playing a game, will now be soliciting more meat for the middle east death grinder.

  • The Haze

    Sounds like choices are being made all around here….from the Army to Caleb Campbell to everyday joes like us. Freedom of choice is not free, it is earned because of the men and women in the armed services and sometimes those choices are hard(fight) and sometimes they’re easy(recruit),but either way, they’re something that we as Americans take for granted sometimes because we get to do it all the time!For Tony @#6 – Let me know how that vomit tastes when that Middle East Meat Grinder decides to bring his business to our shores! Remember he tried once(9-11).I’m against all wars,not just the ones that involve us,so whatta say we expedite this one before we run out of choices?

  • Tony

    *Meat grinder: the constant stream of youngsters that ignorant people send to die for something they’ve been fooled into believeing is right.

    This isn’t a political thread but honestly, misinformed comments like that are one of the biggest reasons our soldiers continue to come home in coffins. Iraq didn’t attack us so unless you’re generally supporting an idea of attacking countries in which any Muslims live, what you said was completely wrong.

    This is a war you’re supporting, where actual people are dieing daily. This is not gay marriage or some other stupid Republican talking point. Read something like the 911 commission report, learn about exactly what is going on; as in who we are fighting and supporting, and then make an informed decision on whether its worth sacrificing billions of U.S. dollars and thousands of American lives.

    If there is any positive arguement towards letting this kid play football it is that his patriotic sense was abused by the criminals in our government that waged this illegal war, and on that basis of fraud, he should be allowed out of his obligations.

    It’s sad that we have so many strong, patriotic youngster so willing to die for the security of their country and yet the people who control their fate continue to send them off to die for reasons that are totally unjustified.

    We didn’t learn in Korea, we didn’t in Vietnam. When will we learn that the people who are victimized by our blind faith in political platforms and parties are the ones who actually have to fire the guns?

  • The Haze

    It’s not Iraq we’re fighting.It’s a belief! They believe we are INFIDELS! GET IT TONY? That next belief may pop up in Iran. Who knows? But don’t be so naive to think that if we leave them alone, they’ll leave us alone(or that we started it bullshit! They’ve been poking at us for years. Read your h-i-s-t-o-r-y Mr. Misinformed!)What is sad is the many who aren’t willing to die for their country after so many before them did(you know….guys like dad and grandpa and uncle ernie),just so “they”(the unwilling) can have this opportunity to show their patriotism!How patriotic are you? God bless Caleb Campbell and all the rest who serve. Why can’t we all just get along?

  • specilist of the army

    Yeah Yeah we knew what we signed up for! And its for people with big mouths like you! We fight so you can run off your big mouths! If you dont know the flavor stay out of my kool-aid!

  • Spc., your logic escapes me. “I defend your right to talk trash – so shut up”?

    And strictly speaking, Tony (or whoever it is you’re addressing) has the right to freedom of speech whether or not you sign on the dotted line and run around the Middle East yelling “Hoo-rah”.

    It is actually his freedom not to have the Men With No Sense Of Humour bundle him into a car and take him somewhere to attach his appendages, various, to the power grid for exercising said right which you defend.

    And frankly, considering the United States’s geographical isolation, that freedom is under greater threat from within than from without.