Cameron Kinley isn’t the only player to see his debut delayed by military service
The rookie cornerback, who signed with the The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as an undrafted free agent this year, was a team captain and class president in the Navy. He requested to delay his commission in order to begin his NFL career, but that request was denied, and he is required to become an ensign, with no possibility of appeal.
Kinley can take comfort in knowing that he is not the only player to have done his military service before starting his professional sports dream. ESPN Stats and Information Group has put together a list of a few other notables.
The future Hall of Famer and winner of the 1963 Heisman Trophy was a future selection in the 10th round by the Dallas Cowboys in 1964, but due to his naval commission he did not join the Cowboys until 1969. Staubach spent a year in South Vietnam during his service. He won two Super Bowls with the Cowboys and made the Hall of Fame in 1985.
The wide catcher began his NFL career at age 27 after spending five years in the Navy as an officer. McConkey signed with the New York Giants and had a 25-yard punt return, a 44-yard reception on a flea flicker and a touchdown in Super Bowl XXI. He played in the league from 1984 to 1989.
McCallum was actually able to play his rookie season for the Los Angeles Raiders due to his post in Southern California in 1986. He was then posted to the USS California in 1987, which was sailing the Indian Ocean at at the time, temporarily stopping his career. McCallum returned to the Raiders after his service in 1990 and played until 1994.
Nicknamed the “Admiral,” Lt. David Robinson was recruited by the San Antonio Spurs No.1 in 1987. He served two years in the Navy before returning to the Spurs in 1989, due to the conclusion of a agreement with Secretary of the Navy John Lehman. to serve only two years instead of the four required. Robinson joined Spurs in 1989, won two titles and an MVP award, was a member of the “Dream Team” and was part of the Hall of Fame after his retirement.
Villanueva was not drafted in 2010 and entered service with the United States Army. After completing his service, he attempted to make the NFL again and signed with the Eagles after an open try in 2014. Although he was cut before playing for Philadelphia, he ended up signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers, playing with them until 2020. He signed with the Baltimore Ravens for the 2021 season.