Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Magnificent Mismanagement of Caleb Campbell's Career

The blogosphere has erupted since news broke that NFL draftee Caleb Campbell was being recalled to a position within the US Army rather than pursuing his dream of playing in the NFL, which he was told he could do. The talk has exploded and rightly so! Now this is neither the time nor place to comment on the way the US Army's treatment of its troops in the past in terms of recalls, but it is a place to discuss the negative PR that will result from this situation. And it's also a place to make mention of the ordeal this young and promising athlete was put through by the organization he served loyally for the past few years.

Deadspin wrote an article that reveals Campbell was completely unaware of what was transpiring:

I spoke to Campbell last night, after all this went down. He had spent the past
week at West Point, and says the Army's decision “left me in the complete dark.
No one said a thing to me on campus last week about anything changing. Nothing.”
It is great to see though that despite the outrageous misstep on the part of the Army here, Campbell has played his cards right through this whole situation. Stating that, “I’m a soldier first and foremost and I go where they order me to go", it's clear this is a young man who does not deserve the kind of treatment he's going through right now.

On the Dan Patrick Show this morning it was reported Campbell said these orders came from further up the chain of command than West Point, more like Capitol Hill, that they had apparently changed the 2005 policy which allowed soliders "with unique talents and abilities" to choose a different route, in exchange to recruit in the process. However what I'm still lost and trying to figure out is why Campbell is then not reporting back to serve as a troop on the battlefield, but rather assuming the role of graduate assistant with the Army football team or the West Point Prep School team...really?? According to Campbell anyhow this is the case, however as (unfortunately) proven recently, Campbell is not necessarily given the full details of what he will be doing at any given time by the Army.

If this comes down to a staffing issue I feel that the matter grows into something larger than it already is. Athletes have been allowed to function under this policy in the past, to play professional sports while recruiting for the Army, and generally that's the best PR the Service could ever receive! For the sake of U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jonathan P. Liba anyways I hope that Campbell is wrong in his understanding, as the Colonel reportedly wrote how Caleb was ordered to return for "full-time traditional military duties." I'm pretty sure there's many capable graduate assistants out there the Army could pursue, but hey maybe that's just me. One blog makes some great insight into the whole situation and sums it up quite nicely:

Two baseball players and a hockey player went pro under the policy before
Campbell did. Perhaps no one noticed, so there wasn’t a controversy, so there
wasn’t a reason to examine the policy and revise it. I suppose they now will
have to give up their pro sports careers, too. It’s only fair.

Or unfair.
The U.S. Army looks bad after this one, and really there's no reason they shouldn't either!


sager said...

It's quite possible that Campbell's situation will really put human face on the way the military has really exploited young soldiers, even relative to other times when America was at war.

It really hasn't got traction, despite the Pat Tillman cover-up, despite the Walter Reed horror stories ... but basically telling the guy he could go to the League and then taking it away from him at the 11th hour, that's brutal.

On the one hand, you got to West Point to get ready for a military career, not a NFL career.

Keep your eyes peeled for Dave Zirin to have something to say about this.

Big V said...

Good luck with recruiting...
Come play football for us... Cause it will be the last football you play... we promise