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Controversy at West Point

I realize that this is not USC related but it is football related and with having served 8 years in the US Navy as a Corpsman, with some of my time overseas I feel compelled to discuss this.

Form the Fanhouse

In the seventh round of last month's NFL draft, the Detroit Lions selected Caleb Campbell, a safety who played college football at Army. And thanks to a new U.S. military policy, Campbell will get to play in the NFL, assuming he makes the Lions' roster, while his West Point classmates have to serve active duty, many of them in Iraq.

In a profile in the Boston Globe, Campbell talks about the harsh criticism he has faced from people who think he's doing the wrong thing by going to the NFL instead of serving on active duty

"The worst was a handwritten letter," says Campbell, a native of Perryton, Texas. "It said, 'Please don't do this. How can you look your classmates in the eyes when they are serving their country and going to Iraq and you're taking the easier way out?' That hit me . . . But I'd be a fool not to take advantage of this opportunity."

I don’t discuss my time in the service much mostly because it was unremarkable. I volunteered, I re-upped, I learned a trade and I moved on. I got what I wanted out of them they got what they wanted out me, simple as that. If I was required to go into a hot LZ with a platoon of Marines then so be it. When you put your name on the dotted line they own you no questions asked and they can do with you what they want regardless of your training or background. The old saying is that Navy Corpsman has the life expectancy of less than a minute in a hot LZ. That’s the risk you take.

Campbell has done nothing wrong and he shouldn't be criticized for it. The Army has a policy in place that Campbell can serve out his time after his time in the NFL, provided he makes the team. If he’s on the hook for 5 years then he may very well end up in Iraq. He took advantage of the rule that the organization put in place, a rule that is meant to maximize the military's ability to market it’s product in order to meet recruiting levels. Its really no different than seeing an Army or Navy sponsored car in NASCAR.

Further, I’m not quite sure what Michael David Smith is implying when he says "I also disagree with Campbell when he says he'd be a fool not to take the opportunity. By that rationale, Pat Tillman is a fool." Not at all, we are all driven by different motivations its as simple as that.

It shouldn’t be a part of the discussion as the situations are totally different. Choosing serve your country is a personal decision that is no different than what religion you choose to practice, how you choose to vote or whether you're pro-life or pro-choice. The only right answer is the one YOU choose. Campbell chose to chase an opportunity that may not be available to him in 5 years, this is not Roger Staubach in 1964 the rules are different today. I understand to some its been an ugly conflict but we are where we are if Campbell has the opportunity I have no problem with him taking it. Society today places a high value on athletics, Campbell has a gift that the Army wants to take advantage of, just like they did with Pat Tillman. Chastising this kid for taking that opportunity is against everything we stand for in this society.

I say let it play out.