Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s face-to-face this week to allow Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie cornerback Cameron Kinley to attend training camp surprised everyone, including the former Navy team captain.
Kinley told ESPN that Secretary Austin personally called him after the Department of Defense changed its decision.
“I was just shocked that I was on the phone with the Secretary of Defense,” Kinley said. “But he informed me that he had made the decision to restructure the ruling and he was glad that he made that decision. He said that this was the right decision and that he was just looking forward to my benefit of the.”
An unnamed free agent after graduating from the US Naval Academy, Kinsley signed with the Bucs in May and participated in rookie minicamp. In June, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker rejected Kinley’s request to postpone his commission.
“I was devastated. I was speechless,” Kinley told ESPN. “I really did not know what to think. And then I just realized that this was another obstacle on the journey. I knew this situation would make me a stronger person.”
The surprisingly preliminary decision by the Pentagon led to an outpouring of NFLPA support to lawmakers who believed Kinley should have the opportunity to pursue an NFL job before fulfilling his service promise. This week’s news gives Kinley the chance to chase that dream.
As an unnamed free agent on a Super Bowl-winning team that returns most of its core, Kinley faces an upward battle to get the Bucs to play. But the 22-year-old is not running from that challenge.
“It’s a kind of mindset that I’ve had since I started playing the football game,” Kinley said. “You know, don’t let anyone outdo you and give 110 percent. So I’m excited about it. I definitely have a chip on my shoulder.”
During training camp later this month, Kinley gets that shot to prove he belongs.