Stand-Out Athletes At The Service Academies Will No Longer Be Able To Turn Pro Right Away

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Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis signed an order Monday rescinding a 2016 policy that allowed graduates of the military academies to defer their two years of active duty while playing professional sports.

The order applies to service academy athletes graduating in 2017, including former Air Force Academy wide receiver Jalen Robinette.

Robinette, Air Force’s all-time leading receiver, was expecting to be a mid-to-late-round draft pick, but went undrafted after the Air Force announced Thursday night, in anticipation of the impending policy change, it would not approve requests for a deferral of active duty.

“Our military academies exist to develop future officers who enhance the readiness and the lethality of our military services. Graduates enjoy the extraordinary benefit of a military academy education at taxpayer expense. Therefore, upon graduation, officers will serve as military officers for their minimum commitment of two years. The department has a long history of officer athletes who served their nation before going to the pros including Roger Staubach, Chad Hennings and David Robinson,” the DOD statement said.

We are gonna get much more into the weeds about this on Zero Blog Thirty this week but I wanted to mention it on the blog as well. I don’t hate this move. I have a feeling that Connor will hate it.

I don’t hate it because the guys who signed up to go to these academies know that their military service comes before their playing time and possible pro careers. The policy that was rescinded was only a year old.

Is playing in the NFL, MLB or whatever else a great opportunity? Sure. Of course it is. Does taking two years off from your sport of choice severally impact your ability to ever play professional sports? Absolutely. Those are risks that you know when you sign-up to go to one of the academies.

There are plenty of policies in the DoD that are restrictive to service members and graduates. The ability to make much more money and have a national stage to tout the greatness of the service academies is well and good. (although anyone with a brain knows that the service academies are great schools. It shouldn’t take a former Navy linebacker telling you that to make it evident) Having a clear and absolute policy in place that says that ALL graduates who are medically able will complete their obligation seems in line with typical Department of Defense thinking.

Jalen Robinette, the wide receiver referenced, is good as hell, though. A big body with great control who high-points the shit out of the ball. He’ll be on a squad two years after he graduates. No doubt about that.