Cameron Kinley will have to wait a little while longer to make his NFL debut.
The rookie cornerback, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent this year, was a team captain and class president at Navy. He requested to delay his commission in order to begin his NFL career, but that request has been denied, and he’s being required to commission as an ensign, with no chance to appeal.
Kinley can take some solace in knowing he’s not the only player who’s had to complete his military service before beginning his pro sports dream. ESPN Stats and Information Group came up with a list of some notable others.
The future Hall of Famer and 1963 Heisman Trophy winner was a 10th-round future selection by the Dallas Cowboys in 1964, but due to his Naval commission 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 receiver started his NFL career at 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 catch in Super Bowl XXI. He’d play in the league from 1984-1989.
McCallum actually was able to play his rookie season for the Los Angeles Raiders due to being stationed in Southern California in 1986. He was then assigned to the USS California in 1987, which was sailing the Indian Ocean at the time, temporarily halting his career. McCallum returned to the Raiders after his service was done in 1990 and played until 1994.
Nicknamed “The Admiral,” Lieutenant David Robinson was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs No. 1 overall in 1987. He served two years with the Navy before returning to the Spurs in 1989, due to working out a deal with Secretary of Navy John Lehman to only serve two years instead of the required four. Robinson joined the Spurs in 1989, won two titles and an MVP award, was a member of the “Dream Team” and made the Hall of Fame after he retired.
Villanueva went undrafted in 2010 and went into service in the U.S. Army. After completing his service, he attempted to make the NFL again and signed with the Eagles after an open tryout in 2014. Though he was cut before playing with Philadelphia, he ended up signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers, playing with them until 2020. He signed with the Baltimore Ravens for the 2021 season.