I understand why the Army has changed its mind and decided that linebacker Caleb Campbell has to serve out his two years in the military now, after saying he was eligible to play in 2008. If you go to West Point for an education, you damn well expect to fill out your service requirement immediately — and Campbell has the right attitude here. He understands what he signed on for. With wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the armed forces needs every enlisted soldier and officer it can keep. Rod Marinelli appears to be the right coach who gets it (he’s an Army vet himself), and I can’t imagine any coaches or GMs would respond any differently than just to say, “oh well” and move on.
That said, this was bungled beyond all comprehension. The Army policy allowing Campbell to participate as a public face for recruiting, essentially, had been overturned by Defense Department policy governing all branches of the armed forces. This is completely logical. Why it took until the day before training camp to determine this, rather than prior to the combine and the draft, is the mystery at hand, and yet more proof of how governmental bureaucracy tends to fall over itself.
Given his profiling of Campbell prior to his move to the Gawker Empire, Deadspin’s Clay Travis has been jumping in front of this, not only calling Campbell, but looking at the possible legal claim the Lions could go into against the U.S. government, if they so desired — but since the NFL is pretty rah-rah as far as patriotism goes, and no professional league is that cutthroat to get into it over a seventh round pick, this is how it will be.
It does seems funny that, to fulfill the obligation, he’ll be a graduate assistant at West Point for either his old squad or the prep team. The Army gets to have it both ways now: they milked the publicity from Campbell, but got to keep him. Am I cynical enough to believe that if Campbell was a first or second-rounder, with a better shot at making the team, that the armed forces might have looked around this? Damn close, but right now I’ll have to play it straight and shake my head at the tone-deaf timing.
Army revises policy, won’t allow Lions rookie to play [Detroit Free Press]
Caleb Campbell: “I Was Left In The Dark”: [Deadspin]
Caleb Campbell: The Army’s Loss Is The Detroit Lions’ Legal Gain? [Deadspin]