In case you haven’t heard, let me fill you in. Air Force has a really good wide receiver named Jalen Robinette, it seemed like a lock that he would get drafted in the later rounds.
Here’s where it gets interesting, right as the draft was starting on Thursday, Air Force’s official football twitter account tweets this:
— Air Force Football (@AFFootball) April 27, 2017
An hour or so later Air Force would announce that its players cannot delay their service and go pro, they said they would have to serve two years before they could enter the reserves and play pro sports.
You’re out of your mind if you think I’m gonna let someone else hang up my cleats. Momma raised me better than that
— Jalen Robinette (@Jalen_Robinette) April 30, 2017
My issue is this, you let Robinette go to the combine, have a pro day, and workout for teams, take all the steps to go pro and an hour into the draft, you say he can’t.
Something similar happened in 2008 when star Army linebacker Caleb Campbell enter the draft and was drafted by the Lions in the 7th round. Nearly two months after being drafted the Army came out and said Campbell had to serve two years before he could play in the NFL.
The Air Force decision, I believe, affected other military academy players like Army linebacker Andrew King. King could have (and should have) gone in the later rounds but with the uncertainty of, if the Army would do the same thing as Air Force or not, King wasn’t drafted.
If you are one of the people who say “I didn’t spend my tax money paying their tuition so they could play football”, that excuse isn’t valid. The academies don’t send more than one or two and maybe three players each, it’s not like they are sending the same amount as Alabama or Ohio State. Normally only one out of all of the players each team sends to the draft actually makes it to the league, let that one guy follow his dream. Army QB Kelvin Hopkins said it best:
No one is begging y’all to let ALL of us go pro, but to the few of our peers that get that chance against the odds! LET THEM GO!
— Kelvin Hopkins (@FindingExcuses) April 30, 2017
If someone from the academies went pro, they would still be in the reserves and it shines positive light on the schools and the military as a whole. It would affect recruiting for the academies and the actual military.
A perfect example is Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona. He is the only NFL player, as of now, who is an active member of the U.S. Navy. This two-way thing can be done, it has been done. Cardona does it, why can’t Robinette do it? He is an amazing talent and deserves a chance to go pro and showcase what the academies have to offer.
— Mike Judge (@CoachMikeJudge) April 29, 2017
I talked to my dad, who is a Lieutenant Colonel and a USMA class of 1995 grad, about it and he said this, “The mission of service academies is develop leaders to serve the nation, not the NFL. That said, it serves the interests of service academies to make provisions for football players with NFL talent an opportunity to play at that level so long they maintain their obligations to serve in the Reserves or National Guard.”
If someone from one of the three academies has a shot to make it let them, they will still serve, it won’t be on the front lines, no, but they will still have a huge effect on the country through inspiring the youth to be the next soldier, recruiting people to join the service and in many other ways. Going to one of the academies, you know making it to the pros is an extreme long shot, so if someone defies the odds and has a legit shot at going pro, let them, there isn’t a lot of them. Let them showcase what these schools have to offer.