Andre Carter II is an absolute beast of a player. No, I am not just saying that because he played at Army. He was second in the country in sacks last year. He is 6-7 260lbs, athletic, tough, long, and has a no-quit motor among other great attributes. Don't believe me? How about Mr. Kiper?
Andre is projected by many to be a first or second round pick. Except now, Congress is getting involved. Well, let me take a step back. For those unfamiliar, if you go to a service academy you owe the military 5 years of active duty service. You know that when you sign up to go to school there. However, in 2019 President Trump introduced a waiver that would allow athletes to defer their service to go play pro sports.
Congress is disrespectfully giving Andre the Lee Corso.
ABC News- The Military Times has reported that a potential change in the policy for athletes at military academies emerged amid part of a bill being passed through Congress. Since 2019, athletes at military academies have had the ability to apply for a waiver to delay their active service requirement and immediately pursue professional sports opportunities.
That rule, pushed through by former President Donald Trump in 2019, appears on the cusp of being revoked. Tucked in Section 553 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Senate on Thursday and is headed to President Joe Biden's desk, is language that states an "agreement by a cadet or midshipman to play professional sport constitutes a breach of service obligation." The bill covers Army, Navy and Air Force and states: "The cadet may not obtain employment, including as a professional athlete, until after completing the cadet's commissioned service obligation." That obligation is, according to Army, five years of active duty and three years in the individual ready reserve.
This is absolute malarkey. I am furious. Rightfully so, Coach Monken is furious as well,
"It's just kind of pulling the rug out from under him," Monken told ESPN. "It's not fair. It's not fair to him. He was loyal to this team and institution. He could have left and he didn't. He still wants to serve. It's not that he doesn't want to serve. He wants to pursue the NFL and play, and then serve.
"I'm 100% against it."
The argument by those who introduced this into the bill is that these players know what they are signing up for and they owe the country their service. I am not suggesting that they skip out on their service. Far from it. However, service comes in many forms. Every time Andre is on the field, he is representing West Point and the US Army and doing it proudly I might add. Any time his name is mentioned so is the Army, which is an effective recruiting tool for the Army. In case you haven't been following, the Army is STRUGGLING to hit recruiting numbers right now. Why not have a walking billboard playing on Sundays?
More important than his ability on the field, Andre is a first class kid in every sense of the word. I've spoken to him only a couple of times and he was upstanding. When I asked certain folks in the program about all the fanfare he was receiving during preseason I was told, "It could not happen to a better player. He is handling it extremely well and maintains humility. He cares about the team above all else." After the last home game this year, I had a group of about 7 young kids who just wanted to meet Andre. He met with them all, took pictures, signed autographs, and caught up with them. He couldn't have been more gracious with his time.
Since 1996 Army has had two players get drafted - 1997 Ronnie McAda was Mr. Irrelevant and 2008 Caleb Campbell went in the 7th round. We are a tough program made up of talented football players who are great people. The exact type of person you want leading our men and women in the Army. But allowing players to play professional sports does not significantly diminish the amount of leaders we produce each year. Each year West Point graduates about 1000 students - if we have a handful that are able to play pro sports, I think the Army will be okay. In fact, I know it will because we produce great leaders up and down each class. Plus, do you know how excited Andre's classmates would be for him to go play in the NFL? Immensely.
Here is the other crummy part - the Army has the World Class Athletes Program for Soldiers who train for the Olympics. So right now you can graduate from West Point and spend your 5 year commitment training to wrestle or ski or play handball in the next Olympics and Congress is cool with that. But strap on a helmet on Sundays and they have a problem.
IT MAKES NO SENSE. Text I just received from a sitting US Congressman when asked to comment, "Ya, it's dumb." So you see, it is likely someone who got wronged by a football player in high school and has been holding a grudge ever since. Whoever you are, you're not stuffed in that locker any more. No one can hurt you. Quit being so myopic and check out the big picture - it's a beautiful one.
I hope this all gets figured out and Andre is given whatever waiver he needs. More than anything, he deserves this. He was loyal to West Point and to Army Football. He was promised a shot at the NFL. His play on the field more than warrants a shot at the NFL. Let him go represent the Army on Sundays.