G.I. Blues — Motown Style

By Gregory Moore
Updated: July 26, 2008

SAN ANTONIO — There’s been this big fuss about Caleb Campbell being ordered to report for duty in Iraq. Let me clarify the young man’s name.

That’s 2nd Lt. Caleb Campbell, USA. Not Caleb Campbell, the seventh round pick in this year’s NFL draft. Campbell, who is from Perryton, Texas, knew of the risk when accepted an invitation to attend West Point Academy.

Despite the media stories saying that the Army has botched this story from jump, there was a greater duty that Campbell agreed to before the Detroit Lions ever drafted him; a duty to fulfill his commitment to the United States of America who paid for his education.

You see that’s the story nobody wants to talk about. Campbell has his degree in Latin American studies and that can easily be translated into a linguist for the Army.

Think Central America folks. Yes this country still has military ops going on down in El Salvador, Honduras and the like. But what nobody in sports talk is doing is actually giving you the facts of why the Army has every right to do what it is doing.

The Army, and you and I, paid for Campbell’s education over a four-year period. Campbell is using the “alternative service option” implemented by West Point, allowing cadets with “unique” talents to pursue pro careers after graduation. It does not relieve cadets of their service obligation but defers and modifies it.

And that’s really fine with me except for one thing; we’re in a war.

And that’s where this gets sticky because many are saying that the Army should use Campbell as a positive public relations tool in recruitment while others are saying the Army should be allowed to dictate to this soldier what his duties are.

In this case I’m for the latter.

Let’s be clear about something. If Campbell REALLY wanted a pro football career, West Point is not a pro football school.

The young man is from Perryton. As in Perryton, Texas up in the Texas panhandle.

Perryton is 563 miles away from the University of Texas. It’s 283 miles from Norman.

As gifted as Campbell is, if he really wanted a pro career, he had the pedigree as an outstanding football player in the Amarillo, Texas area to go to either Texas or Oklahoma.

But he chose West Point and that’s not a knock on him; it’s just the decision he made.

And so its really wrong for anyone in the media to say that the Army is doing this young man a disservice by forcing him to report to Iraq. In case no one hasn’t paid attention to Mr. Campbell’s words, he’s quite sincere and proud of his commitment to the Army. He understands what’s at stake.

To bad the rest of the world doesn’t.

In an attempt to make a news story, just about every major sports network is trying to treat Campbell like he’s the hottest political commentator and he’s not.

He’s an Army lieutenant with a special gift and like all incoming officers that gift needs to be honed for the Army to use. And I’m not talking about his football prowess either.

Lt. Campbell will be able to figure out what’s best for him and if he is truly gifted and talented in the football arena, he will do like other athletes had done who attended service academies.

If he has qualms about what would be best, he could talk to Chad Hennings, the former Dallas Cowboy tight end for guidance.

Hennings postponed his NFL career for his Air Force four-year obligation and it didn’t hurt him.

For Campbell, he could do the same thing and the Army might even be willing to do a “two and two” option for him; two year active, two-year ‘reserve’ as a spokesperson/recruiter.

But Campbell first must meet his obligation to the Army and see where it goes before he gets his NFL deal going.

That would be the honorable thing to do. If the Lions truly want him, they’ll wait.

As a matter of fact, they’ll make sure he’s on the team by doing something that GM Matt Millen could never due and that is sign him to a contract that allows him to still be a part of the team while on active duty.

Good sound judgment and character are why Campbell was chosen to attend West Point and if he just thinks it through, he’ll get everything he wants.

As for the rest of us, instead of everybody jumping on the Army and thinking they are robbing us sports fans of a potential talent, why don’t we let this young man show the rest of the athletic world what it means to honor you contract and commitment to your ‘team’.

After all Campbell knew what he was in store for when he accepted the commission.

Why can’t we?