This time, Navy gets it right (Salute)

February 15, 2009 | Drew Forrester

Nearly 12 months after the U.S. Army put themselves in the middle of a hot-mess with football player Caleb Campbell, the Naval Academy took steps yesterday to make sure they wouldn’t make the same mistake.

Good for them.

Navy football player Eric Kettani was invited to participate in next week’s NFL Combine, where college players gather to show off their skills, speed and strength.  It’s a prelude to the NFL Draft and a number of players use it to prove they’re ready for the professional game after playing under the radar during their college career.

Kettani was a fullback at Navy and, according to some who follow the NFL, would have been a consideration on draft day in April.

It’s not going to happen for Kettani.  The Naval Academy ruled yesterday that Kettani can not attend the Combine and must serve his 5-year military obligation upon graduation in May.

Campbell was selected in the 7th round by the Detroit Lions last April and that sparked great debate both in the government/military world and the NFL. 

Why should Campbell be treated differently than others who signed up for service in the U.S. Army?  That’s what his Army “teammates” muttered.

Why would the NFL put themselves in the middle of this argument?  That’s what folks who cover the sport whispered.  “The NFL just should create a rule…No graduating players from any of the service academies are eligible to be drafted until they have concluded their service obligation.”  That’s what many said last year.

Campbell did not play for the Lions in 2008 because the Army changed their policy in July and forced him to join his fellow graduates from West Point in their “service obligation” roles.

Kettani will not be the subject of debate this April.

The Naval Academy has done the right thing.  Kettani will be required to fulfill his 5-year obligation, per the agreement entered into when signing on in Annapolis, and our country will probably be much better for it.

The young men and women who attend, learn and graduate from the Naval Academy are among the brightest minds our country has developed.

They’re best served using that knowledge to help our country in whatever role their education has prepared them for – and I’m quite certain it’s NOT playing football.

Here’s a salute to the Naval Academy.  They did the right thing.

And one, as well, for Eric Kettani.  His service to our country is greatly appreciated.