Today was apparently “sign a service member” day in the NFL. Former Army safety Caleb Campbell has been offered a contract by the Detroit Lions, according to goblackknights.com. This news comes on the heels of former Air Force Academy all-purpose man Chad Hall inking a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Campbell is still stationed at Fort Sill, Okla., according to goblackknights.com, but is in the process of being released from active duty.
Campbell was drafted by the Lions in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. He attended a team mini-camp but was denied the chance to sign a contract with the team. Then-Army Secretary Pete Geren changed the Army policy on service members playing pro sports, requiring Campbell and other soldiers to serve at least two years on active duty before being allowed to ask for an early release from their obligation.
The old Army policy would have allowed Campbell to play for the Lions after he graduated from West Point. My colleague Michelle Tan explains:
In the past, the Army allowed soldiers to be released from active duty commitments to participate in pro sports and other activities that offer the Army a recruiting or public affairs benefit. Soldiers serving the two years on active duty could be assigned to the recruiting unit closest to the location of their sports team or activity. The soldier would then conduct recruiting activities to support the Army instead of, for example, serving in a line unit in Iraq.
The Army perhaps showed tremendous foresight by not allowing Campbell to play in Detroit, as he avoided being a member of the dreadful 0-16 squad that was quite possibly the worst team in NFL history.
Last season one service academy graduate — New Orleans Saints fullback Kyle Eckel — played in the NFL.