TAMPA, Fla. -- Florida Senator Marco Rubio penned a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to assist former Navy cornerback Cameron Kinley in delaying his commission with the Navy so he can attend training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"In the past, the U.S. Department of Defense has issued many waivers to allow athletes to temporarily delay their service to our nation to pursue their professional sports dreams," Rubio wrote. "Unfortunately, Mr. Kinley seems to be the exception, and without reason."
"Grant Mr. Kinley's waiver to play in the NFL, and send a message to future academy graduates that the United States is a country where Americans can follow their dreams and be true to their commitment."
Rubio referenced previous administrations' willingness to grant waivers so service academy graduates can "live out their dreams of playing a professional sport" and cited other service academy graduates who were granted the waiver this year: Jon Rhattigan (West Point), Nolan Laufenberg (Air Force) and George Silvanic (Air Force).
Kinley was not given an explanation from the Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker, who declined to send Kinley's deferment package to the Secretary of Defense. Kinley was told he cannot appeal the decision, prompting Kinley to reach out to Senator Marsha Blackburn, who represents Kinley's home state of Tennessee.
Harker also denied former Navy pitcher Charlie Connolly so he won't be eligible for the 2021 MLB draft.
Kinley signed with the Bucs as an undrafted free agent and attended rookie camp, where he intercepted second-round draft pick Kyle Trask, before learning he would not be able to delay his commission.
Kinley is scheduled to report to the Navy on June 28. Coach Bruce Arians said if there is a reversal, the Bucs would welcome him back.
"Well, he's obviously very, very important to the Navy," Arians said. "It's kind of a Catch-22. I know he wants to attempt to be a professional football player, but he obviously means a ton to the Navy. So I'll leave that up to them. I would love to have him."
"If anything, whether or not they reverse the decision for me -- that would be nice -- but at the end of the day, I just hope that some kind of consistency is created moving forward," Kinley told ESPN. "That way nobody has to deal with this heartbreak and disappointment that I'm having to go through right now. I don't want anybody to have to experience that."