Bucs Rookie and Navy Man Kinley Making Waves

May 14, 2021; Tampa Bay, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Jaelon Darden (1) and corner back Cameron Kinley (26) practice during rookie mini-camp at AdventHealth Training Center Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

A decision regarding Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie cornerback Cameron Kinley was reversed on Tuesday by the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Lloyd Austin had originally denied the undrafted free agent and former Navy Midshipman’s request to play in the NFL in 2021 due to his position as an ensign in the Navy.

However, on Tuesday, Secretary Austin decided to delay Kinley’s Navy commission so that he can attend training camp with the Bucs. With this news coming down, Kinley may now have the possibility of making the Buccaneers’ roster as a possible fifth cornerback on the depth chart and a special teams player.

Delay in Military Service

While football will delay his service career, Kinley will return to the Navy ranks at some point.

“This plan will see Cameron enlisted in the Inactive Ready Reserve for the duration of his football career,” Secretary Austin said. “Upon completion of his playing time, we look forward to welcoming him back inside the ranks as a naval officer.”

Rook Ready to Show Out

Now with a chance to compete, Kinley is ecstatic. He took his elation to Twitter in a statement he released on Tuesday.

“I am extremely appreciative of Secretary Austin’s decision and I am excited to represent our fine military in the National Football League. This past month has been very challenging and I am thankful for everyone who has supported me in any way,” he said. “Thank you to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization for believing in me remaining patient with me throughout this process. I am excited to get back to work in Tampa Bay with my teammates.”

Confusion Regarding Rules

However, there were some issues during the process. There was also a rule already preestablished that was brought into question during this process.

According to an NFL.com article, “In 2019, a rule established in 2017 that barred athletes from delaying their military commissions was reversed to allow for exceptions. However, Kinley did not receive an exception and confusion followed. Much of that confusion seems to have been cleared up for Kinley on Tuesday.”

And it wasn’t just Kinley who was confused and later became excited from the reversal of the original decision. His agency also was thrilled to see him get a chance to play in the NFL.

In a partial statement released on Tuesday, Kinley’s agency said, “Cameron is a fine young man and we are very happy for him. We talk to every player we represent about our values and beliefs and one of them is, ‘We are a family and always support one another.’ This was no easy feat, and we worked tirelessly to make it happen.”

Patience and Persistence

Through the process, Kinley was still on the Bucs as part of their 90-man roster. His patience eventually netted him a chance to do what he always wanted.

More praise came from the decision on the federal level, including current 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. “After his NFL career, he will continue to make us proud as an officer in the United States Navy.”

Through the pressure and patience, Cameron Kinley kept his hopes up to meet his dream. Now with approval to play, his motivation will be even higher to earn a roster spot in the NFL.