“I’ve spent the last week processing my emotions as it is very difficult to be so close to a childhood dream and have it taken away from me,” he said.
In a statement to CNN, a spokesman for the Secretary of the Navy said Acting Secretary Thomas W. Harker has declined to refer delay requests from recent Navy graduates to the Secretary of Defense.
“When students accept admission and continue their education in this program, there is understanding and recognition that they will be engaged upon graduation,” wrote Captain Jereal Dorsey in the statement. “Every midshipman participates on the same terms and has an equal responsibility to serve. Exceptions to this obligation to serve have been rightly rare.”
The co-founder of Divine Sports and Entertainment, who represents Kinley, said the Navy also denied him an opportunity to appeal the decision.
“He wants to fulfill both of his childhood dreams, play in the NFL and serve his country with honor,” said co-founder Ryan Williams-Jenkins.
The denial of the Navy is part of a policy that has changed repeatedly over the past few years. Graduates of the service academies must generally serve five years after graduation in active service.
“While I recognize that these men come from different branches of the armed forces, I am amazed why I am the only person denied this opportunity,” Kinley wrote in his statement.
“I am well aware of the commitment I made to service when I arrived at the United States Naval Academy. I look forward to my career as a naval officer in the information warfare community. I deserve a chance to live, however. ” fulfill another of my lifelong dreams before I do my duty, “he added.
A number of Navy graduates have played in the NFL, most notably Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, who won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s. Three Navy graduates have been drafted to NFL teams in recent years, including long snapper Joe Cardona in 2015, receiver / running back Keenan Reynolds in 2016, and running back Malcolm Perry last year.
CNN’s Jill Martin and Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.