Washington Redskins fullback Eric Kettani, an officer in the Navy Reserve, revealed in an interview with the NFL Network that he has received "hate mail" for taking time away from his military career to pursue a spot in the NFL.
Kettani has an arrangement with the Navy where he is allowed to work in public affairs for seven years in the reserves while he tries to make an NFL roster.
The hate mail said, 'Go back to the military and what you signed up for,' " Kettani told the NFL Network. "They have every right to say that."
Kettani told ESPN he received the hate mail when he left active duty last year to try to make the New England Patriots' roster. He said he didn't let it deter him from following his dream.
"As a child, everybody has a dream and my dream was to play football. I'm taking advantage of that now," he said.
Kettani, on New England's reserve/military list while serving three years of active duty after his 2009 graduation from the Naval Academy, spent last season on Washington's practice squad after being released by the Patriots.
His time on active duty included 6½ months circumnavigating South America aboard the USS Klakring.
"We were out there surveilling and trying to find go-fasters … drug boats that were trying to carry drugs from South America, Central America to the United States," he told the NFL Network.
In June, he asked Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner to participate in the ceremony in which he was commissioned as a lieutenant.
"They're great influences in my life," said Kettani, a Mentor, Ohio, native. "It was a great experience, one that I'll cherish. My good friend Lt. Matthew Harmon, who was a kicker on our [Navy] team, did the swearing in. My family was there. My sponsor family from the Naval Academy was there."
"It's quite unusual to do what he's done," Shanahan has said. "To have that type of drive [to do] what he does for the service [and] what he does on the football field keeps him pretty busy. He's got a chance to compete for a position."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.