Lions seventh-round pick and linebacker Caleb Campbell will not be practicing with the team as of today. In fact, rather than reporting to Allen Park for training camp, he instead is headed back to West Point to find out where he will be serving active duty with the Army.
Back in April when the Lions drafted Campbell, a special policy allowed him to play in the NFL as long as he served as a recruiter in the Detroit area. That way he would still be serving the Army, but could play football as well. He was the talk of the second day of the draft as he was on both the NFL Network and ESPN, and in the seventh-round the Lions made his dream come true by selecting him.
Campbell has been with the Lions ever since and was ready to get on the practice field tomorrow. However, a recent change in policy is preventing him from playing football for at least the next 2 years. That means not only does Detroit lose a player they drafted, but Campbell also will have to put his NFL career on hold.
As it turns out, the Lions will definitely be without another rookie -- seventh-round draft pick Caleb Campbell. The Lions were informed on Wednesday that the Army policy of allowing cadets to play professional sports was recently superseded by a subsequent Department of Defense policy. As a result, Campbell must report back to West Point for further orders.
Marinelli talked to Campbell on Wednesday and said "Obviously, he's disappointed.''
"Caleb is no longer eligible to play for the Detroit Lions. Nobody likes surprises, but you've just got to salute and move on,'' Marinelli said at his press conference today. "We checked (with West Point) as recently as last week and we were assured everything was fine. But that's the deal and we'll move on. I feel bad for the player. He's a heckuva guy and he's going to follow orders and do what he's supposed to do.''
Campbell never officially signed a three-year contract that he agreed to as there was some concern this might happen. The Lions still control his rights up until the 2009 draft, but if he still isn't signed by the time the draft starts (there is no reason to believe he will be signed), then he is eligible to be drafted again. If no team decides to draft Campbell, then he becomes a free agent.
Since the Lions drafted Campbell when there were no signs that this policy allowing him to play would be changed, it would only be fair for Detroit to receive a compensatory selection in the 2009 draft. It doesn't appear likely that that will happen, but it would be nice as the Lions drafted someone that at the time was expected to compete for a spot on the roster. Instead, he will be serving our country for the next two years.
I wish Campbell the best of luck and hope he stays safe. I also hope to see him back in a Lions uniform two years from now if he decides to come back to the NFL.