February 19, 2009
INDIANAPOLIS – The U.S. Navy isn't only asking for a commitment, it apparently is denying opportunity.
At least that's the situation involving FB Eric Kettani, who had hoped to attend the NFL scouting combine this weekend. While Kettani is not expecting to play in the NFL anytime in the next two years because of his commitment to serve after attending the Naval Academy, Kettani was hoping to meet with scouts and coaches in hopes of keeping his football career alive when his commitment was done.
"This was basically a chance for him to do a job interview," said agent Chad Wiestling, who represents Kettani with agent Richard DeLuca. "I really have a hard time believing that the Navy would stop someone from interviewing for a post-service job if it was with a law firm or to go to law school.
"Eric is not complaining about having to fulfill his commitment to the Navy. He respects that commitment and wants to be there. He's not asking for special treatment. He just wanted to keep his hopes for a career in the NFL alive as much as possible."
Navy spokesman Joe Carpenter told the Baltimore Sun earlier this week that Vice Admiral Jeff Fowler, Navy's superintendent, made the decision not allow Kettani to participate in the combine even though Kettani had already played in the Senior Bowl in January in Mobile, Ala. The Senior Bowl required that players spend a week practicing for the game.
"A number of factors were considered," Carpenter told the newspaper. "But he was denied participation because it wouldn't be consistent with current Navy efforts to support active duty readiness during war time. His participation could incorrectly imply that the Navy would support in him pursuing a professional football career immediately after graduation."
At least one NFL team executive was surprised with the decision not to allow Kettani to participate.
"I don't get it," one general manager said. "I would have thought the Navy would have liked to see the kid come here, create some attention for the Navy. It's not a negative situation. It just sounds like they're scared of something. I don't know what. The situation last year with Caleb Campbell didn't turn out well, but nobody was ripping the Army for that."
Campbell was drafted in the seventh round by Detroit last season. He received a loud ovation at Radio City Music Hall in New York when he was introduced and later drafted. In addition, cadet Mike Viti was signed, and eventually released, by the Buffalo Bills.
The original plan for Campbell was to play for the Lions and then work in the offseason to help with recruiting efforts by the Army to fulfill his commitment, the program was called the Alternative Service Option. However, given that the country has been at war, the Army suspended the ASO program in July and both Campbell and Viti had to return to fulfill their service for two years.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire
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