Academy grads can’t play pro until they serve! Ha, J/K

| December 21, 2022

Soon-to-be Second Lieutenant Special Treatment (#34)

We’ve talked on this topic before, and it was not a controversial position. If you’re attending a US military service academy, you’re getting a free education, a guarantee of a commission, and even get paid for the privilege. In exchange for all those taxpayer dollars, graduates are expected to serve Uncle Sam.

For those particularly gifted in sports (mostly football, but occasionally other sports), they are often allowed to get out of or defer their minimum active duty service commitment so that they can be drafted onto a pro ball team. Obviously this means they can earn the maximum amount of money (a starting third-string pro baller will make several times more than he will as an O-1) off their talent. Of course, Mr/Ms/Mx US Taxpayer isn’t getting much of a return on that investment. Particularly if they come back from the league physically battered and used up. It’s the United States military’s job to take 22 year-olds in perfect physical health and destroy them physically and mentally!

Jim Mattis, when he was SecDef, instituted a rule that any academy grad would need to first see out their service before going pro. Just like all the other cadets/midshipmen. It’s abundantly logical. It’s what they agreed to when they signed with the school. The policy was rolled back, but Congress codified the rule (though only requiring a two year active duty term) this year. Here’s what they wrote into the law on the topic;

“Service academy appointments are a zero sum game,” lawmakers wrote in explanatory language for the bill. “Every appointment that goes to a graduate who does not complete his or her active-duty service obligation to pursue professional athletics could have been awarded to many other qualified young people who would have happily served their country.”

Both the House and Senate approved the language, and President Joe Biden is set to sign the authorization bill into law later this month.

Then #34 up above happened. By many accounts he’s first round NFL draft worthy. He might even be the highest NFL drafted USMA graduate ever. If only the military wasn’t a hindrance for his chance at football greatness.

So here we are, with Congress having settled it. He’ll have to serve (as he agreed to) But wait! There’s more. Of course Congress has seen the error of their ways. They were dangerously close to not wasting taxpayer money.

Tucked into the massive government funding bill unveiled by congressional lawmakers early Tuesday morning is language that would allow athletes from the service academies to receive a waiver and defer their active-duty service in order to play professional sports.

That has been the rule for the last few years, and was a factor in Carter’s decision not to transfer from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to another school two years ago. Now a senior, Carter is seen by some sports analysts as a potential first-round pick in next April’s NFL draft.

There’s a small bit of victory for fiscal responsibility and fairness to all cadets/midshipmen;

Instead, they included language in the omnibus funding bill unveiled this week that would allow any academy students who enrolled before June 1, 2021, to continue under the old waiver rules, and mandate two years of immediate service only for students set to graduate in 2025 or later.

So we got that going for us. Which is nice.

Category: Army

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Andre Carter II is kind of a black swan. He is the best player any service academy has produced in at least 50 years, perhaps even all time. Less than 2% of all football players in all colleges get successfully drafted. Those that go in the first round are about 0.3%. He likely will go in the first round, probably in top 20.

You might wonder when was the last time the Army (or any service academy) had a 1st Round draft pick? The answer I believe, is never.

Statistically, if he fulfills his potential he could play for 10+ years at the top of his game terrorizing QB’s around the league. If he goes to the NFL and is everything that he appears to be he likely will never serve another day in the military, unless he gets Reserve or NG duty.


I would say Napoleon McCallum was definately up there as well. He was allowed to play for the Raiders when he was on Shore Duty but lost his starting slot after having to serve on Sea Duty…then he got his leg broke (to say the least).

And if you are talking athletes in general I would put David Robinson up there with Roger Stubach. I don’t know of any Baseball players that have achieved that much success.


McCallum was good; but playing 2nd Fiddle to Marcus Allen, one of the all time greats, cast a long shadow on him.


What did Roger Staubach do? Wasn’t he a midshipman?


He fulfilled his commitment and played as a 27 year old rookie. He is the reason I say best in 50 years, although it is closer to 60. Even though he won the Heisman he was a late round pick (10) because he wouldn’t be able to play right away. The Cowboys got the deal of the century out of him.

He volunteered for Vietnam right out the gate and when he got back he played for service teams that were a thing back then. He didn’t want anyone to get the impression he was getting special treatment (even though he undoubtedly was) which is why he volunteered for the war.

Prior Service

Staubach was the real deal. When he left the Cowboys, I took my fandom and went home.


My mom quit watching the Cowboys when they let Tom Landry go. Then stopped watching Rangers baseball when Nolan Ryan retired. He was a deity in her house.


Here’s an idea…let these top academy athletes off the hook to play pro ball…at the same time hand them a bill for all the money we the taxpayers spent on them for four years. With an NFL contract, they wouldn’t even miss that $300,000 they repay the gubment. Hell…sponging valor thieves cost the gubment way more than that in stolen benefits…


I’m in favor. And for those that it would be worthwhile the cost is pretty low. For the guy that rides the bench for league minimum for a few years hoping for a break, it won’t be worth it.


Concur. Serve your required time in the military, or reimburse the service academy. Pick one.

A Proud Infidel®™


Last edited 1 year ago by A Proud Infidel®™

Make football a MOS


Make a DOD NFL team?

The Potomac Pogues.


Washington Generals


It would take them 2 days to get out of the huddle.


Yes, but this does not take in to account the potential of someone else actually having missed the chance to serve (because they took thier slot). There are plenty of cases, where an athlete has transfered to another school so as not to miss out on potential money. All they had to do was pay back the money.


The amount of money in TV rights and merchandising and alumni donations college sports especially football brings in is staggering. If the service academies want to give it up so be it but I’m pretty sure the difference won’t be made up by congress. Unpaid athletes are used by universities as cash cows in all the popular sports it’s time to drop the student athlete sham and pay these guys as minor league professional athletes. Basketball and football graduation rates at many schools is awful. Without the ability to recruit top athletes which lets face it no one with a chance to go to the show is going to the academies with an unbending obligation the service academies programs will not be able to generate any real revenue and their programs will be less impressive than they are already.

Only Army Mom

Av8or33-we must have been typing at the same time.


It does seem like it


It’s a service academy, recruiting top athletes shouldn’t be a priority. If you’re looking to have a career in professional sports, you shouldn’t even look at Annapolis or West Point. They don’t exist to feed the NFL or NBA.


But it is part of their mission to recruit top athletes. Most people can’t get an appointment without lettering in a few sports.


Look I really don’t care what the academies do but this kid has probably contributed more than most peace time officers already. The revenue and attention he’s bringing in is probably enough to buy a building, or at least renovate a couple large ones. If the academies want to throw away high level NCAA sports by all means do, just as long as the schools are willing to have a lot less money or the taxpayers are willing increase their budget significantly. I hate to say it but what are these schools producing that the regular colleges don’t? Most officers come from state and private schools and there’s no indication that academy graduates are superior in any way other than networking other ring knockers.


And by the way Army and Navy aren’t even ranked top 100 in college football rankings I suspect if they don’t make consideration they will suck way worse.


Why should any other academy cadet be expected to serve after graduation if we’re going to allow elite athletes to forego their service commitment? Might as well make it an “optional” requirement to serve.


I agree and they won’t, just don’t expect the revenue stream they produce. And let’s face facts they aren’t even needed anymore, private and public universities and colleges produce most of our officers and there’s no proof the academy system provides a better product.


Here is another option: Make them all recruiters! Extend their service obligation to eight years total with three years active. If they make a team work with them to place of duty. If you make them happy, it can be a real bonus for the Academies without limitiing the chance of recruiting and being competative.

Only Army Mom

That risks becoming an ouroboros. Recruits looking to get into the military for what the military can do for them, with the belief they’ll be able to do whatever they want. Again, correct me if I’m wrong,but isn’t the point to mold yourself to the institution and not the other way around? Isn’t this the crux of the issue with all this woke nonsense?

I’d also be concerned with how potentially flooding military academies with these self-interest-first jocks would impact the culture of the academies, and the future of our military. Don’t we have enough of these Blue Falcons already?

Then again, make it all transparent and just rename all the teams to some version of Blue Falcon.

Veritas Omnia Vincit

A great many college sports programs don’t generate jack shit for revenue. Public records indicate for years that the myth of high revenue sports funding the schools is just that, a myth.


Your right. If you suck you don’t make money. If you win you make bank. Some schools also have a history and tradition of defying the odds and still have faithful fans that pony up big time. University of Michigan, Penn state and Ohio don’t have stadiums that pack in over 100k people for no reason. The Iron bowl isn’t the spectacle that it is without generating insane money. Army and Navy want to eventually be competitive with the big boys and without recruiting have no chance. If you are content with playing in the lower end that no one cares about then do it. As I’ve said I don’t even know why we fund the academy system anymore, I’m a capitalist let it pay at least partially for itself.

Veritas Omnia Vincit

12% “make bank” the other 88% not so much….

In those 88% of schools the nerds are actually funding the jocks…which is why tuition is so goddamn expensive at some of these schools.


Usually lower level or unsuccessful schools, think 2 nd and lower tier state and smaller private schools. That’s not what Army wants to play in. My son is a college athlete and he’ll tell you that some of the guys he knows especially football and basketball players know their only there to play and will never graduate and if they do it’s because they’re pushed through. God forbid the get hurt it’s a trip back home and no compensation at all. I don’t know what the academy does with injuries that preclude military service. Be interesting to see what the policy is.

Veritas Omnia Vincit

I also feel the kid should be allowed to play, but perhaps his off-season can be coupled with appearances to boost recruiting…

It seems there should be a reasonable compromise that benefits the service far greater than one officer simply serving in a role that is far removed from the public eye…

Nothing wrong with that, but there seems a publicity opportunity here as you suggest and that capitalistic instinct to exploit that should not go unrewarded.


I agree that a compromise is a great idea.

Only Army Mom

What does this do to the service academy’s chances of being able to field a competitive team? I don’t understand a lot about college sports, so correct me if I’m worn get on these two points…

Aren’t there rules about college athletes getting paid, and paid endorsements?
Don’t colleges make a lot of money by fielding teams and players that are particularly good?

I’m disgusted at the individuals who accept these highly competitive appointments who have no intention of serving.

I’m more disgusted at the service academy that places the academy team interest above the purpose of the service academy.


Fielding a competitive team shouldn’t even be on the priority list. Fielding a competent Army is job #1.


Why do we even have these schools most officers come from normal schools and there’s no evidence that the academy system produces a better product. Does anyone outside of alumni even care? It’s a completely unnecessary system that produces a class of people that end up in very influential and lucrative positions simply because of their alumni associations not necessarily competency. This isn’t the 19th century the education they provide isn’t vastly superior and most graduates don’t join the ranks of generals and admirals anymore, most get out at minimum time served and use the ring to access the higher levels of corporate America especially the defense sector. Remind me again why I’m paying for this?


One solution at least in football might be for the academies to drop back to Div 1A/FCS. They can compete in the playoffs there

In my adult lifetime teams like The Citadel have made the FCS playoffs several times most recently 2015 and 2016.


Great solution


A loophole that needs to be closed tighter than Lars’ mind.


Well done, GB… 😜 


Let him play. He gets to keep O-1 pay, the balance gets refunded to the Academy.


The primary focus of a (Taxpayer funded) Military Academy should be to turn out Warriors who can lead other Warriors in the fine art of breaking things and destroying the enemies of our Republic, NOT playing a game. Yeah I get the points about the Good Public Relations aspects/recruitment for non sports related recruits, but still, at the end of the day, for every slot given to the athlete, that is one less slot for someone else. It’s that simple. No waiver, you knew what was expected of you when you accepted the appointment. Cover yourself in glory on the battlefield, not in the stadium.

My daughter earned pretty good money tutoring athletes to keep them academically eligible when she was at the Dawg Pound. You think any of them gave her part of their fat sign up bonus money when they got the pro contract? She did get a few attagirls from the coaches. She uses the skills learned doing that to land a gig with the school system teaching “at risk” students so there is that.

Jay Huyck

I am curious about the percentage of appointments that are set-asides for Athletes, Legacy, LGBTQXYZ, Racial / Religious / Ethnic Minority, political favors, etc.
Just what percentage of an average Hudson High class is occupied by people who would have undoubtedly received appointments strictly based upon their own merits without being granted “special” consideration?


R.I.P. Franco Harris. # 32 of the Steelers, of “Immaculate Reception” fame.


Turns the upcoming anniversary into a sad affair.

Green Thumb

I do not know. Mixed emotions.

Do not disagree w/ the must serve component, but the rank and file probably take the other side. I know many did in my day.

You got the talent to make the NFL, go for it. Just pay it back. Ex: Each AD year becomes three / four Reserve years.

Cannot think of many Soldiers that would disagree or trade places with these guys (if they make it).


Mason–Glenn Davis was the second overall pick in 1947. Had Doc Blanchard not stayed in, he might well have gone #1 in 1947. So Army does have some history there.

Skivvy Stacker

They’d never give you a waiver if you were a fan-fucking-tastic plumber.