Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Injury/NFL Updates

Spoke with Air Force coach Troy Calhoun today and got some updates on some of the Falcons’ injured players:

-Outside linebacker Hunter Altman, who had an arthroscopic procedure on his right ankle on April 11 (the day before the final spring scrimmage), is “doing pretty much everything right now,” Calhoun said. Altman is “a little limited,” pushing off his right foot, Calhoun said, but he should be back to full strength by May 15.

-Tailback Savier Stephens is recovering from hernia surgery and is in rehab, Calhoun said. “He’s able to do some of the core work, and he ought to be able to do everything in early June,” Cahoun said.

-Nose guard Jared Marvin continues to rehab his surgically repaired right knee. Calhoun said Marvin is looking at a mid-September return. …

Calhoun also said that senior linebackers Drew Fowler and John Rabold are drawing interest from some NFL teams – Fowler with the Lions, Rabold with the Chiefs, specifically. Both are looking to sign with teams as undrafted free agents, participate in camps during the next two years and then join the teams (while continuing to serve in the reserves) after completing two years of active duty.


Anonymous said...

So I guess the Air Force is not following in the Army's footsteps and letting these kids who have a definite shot at a dream follow that dream? Caleb Campbell was given the opportunity to follow his dream and I believe serve Westpoint in a great way. These service academies can get more quality players if they only were a bit more flexible with this rule. What do they have to lose. There will probably be only 2 or 3 players with true NFL potential in each graduating class. I think this will hurt Air Force in the long run especially since Army has now made this step with Campbell

Anonymous said...

Who do we talk to to attempt to get the Air Force and Navy for follow Armys footsteps. Its not fair for the kids who have a once in a lifetime dream. If need be I think this should be appealed to Secretary of Defense, if no action the to the president. All Service Academies should have the same policy. Any Ideas on how to get this appeal started?

Anonymous said...

Stan Brock (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) By David Ausiello

Posted Apr 28, 2008

Army’s Caleb Campbell was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round of the NFL draft on Sunday. Later that day, Army’s Mike Viti signed a two-year contract to play for the Buffalo Bills. And while two cadets are headed to NFL camps, Navy and Air Force players, regardless of their talents, are not afforded the same opportunity. All three academies weighed in on the topic with GoMids.com.

In an exclusive interview with GoMids.com, Army head coach Stan Brock agreed that the current Army policy that allows cadets to pursue a professional career immediately after graduation gives his staff a recruiting edge over Navy and Air Force.

Specifically, when asked if he felt the policy, from the recruiting aspect makes the playing field uneven amongst the three academies, Brock responded:

“I guess it would be. I don’t think about it that much, but it sounds like it would be.”

First-year Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo agreed with Brock’s assessment.

“It’s a definite advantage [for Army]. Our hands are tied. I really don’t care one way or another what the policy is – I just want it to be the same.”

Meanwhile, Air Force’s associate athletic director for communications, Troy Garnhart outlined the Falcons’ stance by saying, “We think all three academies should be the same.”

What is clear is that neither the U.S. Naval Academy nor the U.S. Air Force Academy were very familiar with the specific Army memorandum that allowed their athletes to pursue an NFL career upon graduation. Annapolis and Colorado Springs officials directed GoMids.com to the official Secretary of Defense policy that requires all service academy students to serve two-years of active duty.

That policy, which is dated August 24, 2007 and took effect on January 1, 2008 states that “officers may apply for excess leave, after serving a minimum of 24 months of the current obligated active duty period, for a period not to exceed one year, for the purpose of pursuing a professional sports activity with potential recruiting or public affairs benefits for the Department [of Defense].”

However, an Army memorandum dated April 2, 2005 allows West Point and ROTC “personnel who demonstrate a strong potential to participate in a professional activity [to] be assigned to the nearest U.S. Army recruiting unit in proximity to where the professional activity will be conducted for the two-year period of active duty.”

The memorandum goes on to say that “individuals may participate in the professional activity during the two-year active duty period, as long as the professional activity does not interfere with the service member’s military duties.

Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army said that this policy is not only for athletes.

“This policy applies to all professional activities and is not limited to professional sports. All applicants will be given fair and equitable consideration for participation in this program.”

As far as whether the Secretary of Defense policy supersedes the Army memorandum, Department of Defense spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington said in an email to GoMids.com that “it is up to the Army to interpret [the DoD] policy.”

One thing is for sure, the Black Knights' head football coach likes the Army’s interpretation.

“I think it is good to be able to keep your dreams alive. We understand at West Point that west of the Mississippi…we are challenged a little bit in getting information out about [the academy] and all that it stands for. And so to have the national exposure like we had in the last 24 hours with Caleb Campbell – a seventh round draft choice…is very, very positive for a lot of reasons,” said Stan Brock.

“I’m very proud of [Campbell and Viti]. Owen Tolson has an opportunity as well and Jeremy Trimble may have an opportunity as well. I’m happy for them. I’m happy for West Point. I think that Caleb represented West Point very well yesterday at the draft when they brought him up for the interview. And I think that’s one thing the academies can use. It’s good for all the academies quite honestly,” continued Brock.

As for whether or not Brock thought that the policy could bring more scrutiny to West Point, the second-year coach was adamant that the benefits outweighed any potential negatives.

“I would challenge the people that are questioning it to understand how the whole thing is going to work and the numbers of people who will be able to take advantage of it and how small they are…I think [the benefits for the Army and the U.S. Military Academy] are very, very positive. I would just challenge [critics] to study and understand the whole concept of it and how it will lay out and work.”

And even though Brock acknowledged that Army’s policy would give his team an advantage over his rivals, he said that it would not affect how he recruits.

“We’re recruiting for West Point. You have to be a special kid – you have to have something special about you to come to West Point. It does not change our recruiting whatsoever. We still have the academic and physical standards. This will always be West Point.”

Calls to U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force officials regarding whether or not their services have any plans to interpret the Secretary of Defense’s policy in a similar fashion to their Army counterparts went unreturned as of 5:00 p.m. EST on Monday.

As far as where Caleb Campbell may be headed for duty, GoMids.com contacted the Great Lakes Recruiting Division in Lansing Michigan, which covers the Detroit area, to see if they were aware that the newly-drafted player may be headed out to help with its recruiting efforts. It turns out we broke the news to a public affairs official with the unit who remarked when we made him aware of Campbell’s possible assignment:

“Oh is that right?”

“As far as I know, we have two company commanders…but right now there is one officer spot in each company and they are [Army] captains. So that means that they have been in for a number of years,” the official continued.

“He probably wouldn’t be assigned to us because there are no slots for second lieutenants in that area. They may be doing something special for him.”

Do you have a comment for David? Send him an email.

Discuss this story in the Army-Navy forums:
Army forum | Navy forum

Anonymous said...

This is a mess. Check out the Falcon's Athletic website . . . there are currently two obscure swimmers in the AF's World Class Athlete Program who have a long shot of making the 08 team. More power to them, but are you really telling me that these two guys have a better chance of generating good PR for the Academy than a couple of guys with invites to NFL training camps?????

Also, Karl Bolt is playing minor league baseball right now. What's the deal with that, and is what he's doing consistent with the policy? Again, I hope he does great, but does he have a better chance of making the bigs than the two football players? I seriously doubt it.

Anonymous said...

How is this different from athletes with a shot at the NFL? These two swimmers are given the chance to compete on a national level due to this WCAP policy at the Air Force, allowing the swimmers to compete for two years before serving their initial commitment. Although this policy specifically addresses the Olympics, but again, how is this different from the NFL. Why wasn't Rabold and Fowler afforded this treatment. They would be competing on a national level as well. Would someone please tell me the difference here? Also Jake, what is your take on this and/or do you have any information about all of this? Why would the Air Force not "create" a similar policy for all athletes?

jake.schaller said...

My take is if I were John Rabold or Drew Fowler I'd be pretty upset that I didn't have the same opportunities that the two kids at Army got.

Rabold and Fowler and Rabold's agent, Wesley Spencer, with whom I spoke briefly on Wednesday, all are keeping quiet publicly because they don't want to say the wrong thing and perhaps jeopardize a shot at the NFL.

But this does seem a little ridiculous to me for two reasons: One, Army basically is using the interpretation of a memo to overrule a policy. And, two, because some Air Force athletes are benefitting from the World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), which does not apply to football players because football is not an Olympic sport.

I agree with someone I was talking to who said that this policy basically provides a loophole for baseball players(like AFA grad Karl Bolt, who currently is playing in the minors). According to the AFA, Bolt (like the two swimmers) is part of WCAP because he is training for selection to an international baseball competition.

So the only reason Rabold and Fowler are left out is because there's no international football competition?

Here is the definition of the WCAP.

"The World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) is a two-year program that provides active duty, national guard and reserve Air Force personnel the opportunity to train and compete at national and international sports competitions with the ultimate goal of selection the United States Olympic team. The WCAP is not a developmental program; it targets athletes who have achieved world class status in their sport.

If selected for the program, which is done by application, the athlete will be assigned to the Headquarters Air Force Services Agency, San Antonio, Texas, with a duty location near elite coaches and/or world class training facilities. Candidates must remain competitive for an international team roster to remain in the program, which ends after competing with that national team."

Anonymous said...

Quick ... name one WCAP participant from any of the past 3 Olympics? (Insert sounds of crickets chirping here.) Came up empty? Me too. And I follow AF sports very closely.

Quick ... name an AF football player who played in the NFL? (No use of google allowed.) Chad Hennings and his Superbowl rings. Chris Gizzi running out of the tunnel in Green Bay with the American flag after 9/11. Bryce Fisher answering questions about being an AF officer in the days leading up to the superbowl a few years back. I think there was a kid named Russ who played for the Broncos at one point. Schlegel kinda counts too I guess. (Bet he would have stuck around if a sensible policy was in place.) Probably a few others I've forgotten.

See, this is why I left active duty. Seemingly simple, obvious decisions are so wrapped up in buearocracy and red tape, and made by some faceless staffer in a far-off anonymous agency. You wind up with these ridiculous inconsistencies that nobody seems to have the power to quickly fix.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Anonymous said...

I think Javlin Thrower Dana Pounds is in the World Class Athlete program.

The Air Force needs a flexible policy like they have for Medical School.

I would like to see all the World Class Athlete's (to include NFL) get real training and jobs in the Air Force - and do 90-120 day rotations overseas. Obviously pilot is out - but SP's, Intel, MX, CE - might be a possability.

Just one 90 day off season overseas deployment would overcome most of the objectors.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Dana is in WCAP, but as good as she is, she's no shoe-in to make the Olympic team, and has only a negligible chance of actually medalling.

Furthermore, few outside the world of track and field have ever heard of her. Even the very best javelin throwers don't become household names. Especially compared to David Robinson, Roger Staubach, Chad Hennings -- Service Academy grads in "mainstream" US sports with significant potential recruiting impact. And even if you only produce one "name" athlete a decade, that's still pretty good and will have an effect.

I can hear the West Point football recruiters already -- " Air Force??? Why would you want to go there??? At least we offer a 2% of making the NFL. At Air Force, it's 0% and always will be..."

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