Summer 2024

Cameron Kinley approved to delay Navy service so he can join NFL: 'God always has an ultimate plan'

After months of uncertainty regarding his ability to compete in the NFL, former Navy cornerback Cameron Kinley received approval Tuesday to delay his required military service so he could sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl champions.

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U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the approval after an earlier denial by the acting Navy secretary, Thomas Harker. Kinley expressed his gratitude through Twitter following the announcement.

“I am extremely appreciative of Secretary Austin’s decision and I am excited to represent our fine military in the National Football League,” Kinley said on Twitter. “This past month has been very challenging and I am thankful for everyone who has supported me in any way.”

Kinely also acknowledged that ultimately God is responsible for the blessing.

“Sometimes in life God tells us to be still,” Kinley said. “We do not always understand what He is trying to show us, but He always has an ultimate plan. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned throughout this whole process is to trust His timing and remain confident in the fact that God will always prevail.”

Austin issued a statement following his announcement, and he said he was happy Kinley could play in the NFL. He also said he eagerly awaits Kinley’s return to the military after he completes his football career.

“Upon completion of his playing time, we look forward to welcoming him back inside the ranks as a naval officer,” Austin said, according to ESPN. “In the meantime, we know Cameron will take every opportunity on and off the field to ably represent the Navy and the military to the American people and to assist us in our recruiting efforts. I applaud Navy leadership for finding this way to showcase both Cameron’s athletic prowess, as well as the quality and professionalism of our student athletes and our personnel.”

While with the Midshipmen, Kinley was a team captain and starter on defense. He recorded 26 tackles in 2020 as well as one interception. He also recorded 38 tackles in 2019, in which he started all 13 games. Also a class president, Kinley signed as an undrafted free agent with the Buccaneers and participated in the team’s rookie minicamp with the Navy’s permission.

Several public figures congratulated Kinley for the opportunity to play professionally, including President Joe Biden.

“I am confident that Cameron will represent the Navy well in the NFL, just as he did as a standout athlete and class president at the Naval Academy,” Biden said in a statement. “After his NFL career is over, he will continue to make us proud as an officer in the United States Navy.”

Throughout the uncertainty surrounding his future, Kinley has boldly displayed his faith on social media, where he describes himself as an “Ambassador of Christ.” One way he does so is through “30 Second Thursdays,” in which he posts a 30-second video every Thursday. He said he hopes to use these devotionals to help others grow mentally and spiritually.

“I’m trying to use the gift that God has given me with the ability of public speaking,” Kinley told The Spun. “Something I’m big on is mental and spiritual growth. Your mind controls most of your actions and how you go about your day-to-day life. I truly feel that if people can control the way they view different situations, they’ll be able to approach them in a better manner and be able to achieve their dreams. I’m hoping I can touch people every Thursday with a quick message.”

Kinley’s next step in trying to achieve his NFL dream will come at Tampa’s training camp, which will begin July 24. Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said he looks forward to seeing Kinley “compete at training camp for a chance to a spot on our roster.”

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