Donald Trump Talks Pro Sports Option for Service Athletes Before Army-Navy Game

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistDecember 14, 2019

US President Donald Trump (C) participates in the coin toss coin before the Army v. Navy American Football game in Philadelphia on December 14, 2019. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/Getty Images

Before taking in Saturday's Army-Navy game, President Donald Trump spoke to players for both teams about a potential policy change that would allow them to delay their active-duty service to pursue a career in professional sports.

Per ESPN, Trump went into the two locker rooms to tell Army and Navy athletes he wanted to give them an opportunity "to make a fortune, and after you're all finished with your professional career, you'll go and you'll serve and everybody's thrilled" if they have potential to play in a pro league.

The report noted Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo in November that would require athletes to receive approval from the Pentagon chief and they would have to eventually fulfill their military obligation or repay their education costs.

Trump originally discussed athletes at military schools postponing their service in May during Army football's visit to the White House.

Tom Schad of USA Today noted former President Barack Obama implemented a policy in 2016 that allowed athletes to delay their military service, but it was rescinded the following year after Trump took office by his then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

"They'll serve their time after," Trump said at the May event. "I think it sounds good, right? I think it sounds good."

Under the previously amended policy, military academy graduates are required to serve the standard two-year commitment before they are allowed to seek an opportunity to play in a professional sports league.

Austin Cutting, a 2019 Air Force graduate, became the first athlete to sign a professional contract under Trump's policy. He was drafted in the seventh round of this year's NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings. The 22-year-old long snapper has appeared in all 13 games this season.

Saturday marked Trump's second straight appearance at Lincoln Financial Field for the Army-Navy showdown. He also attended the rivalry game in December 2016 as the president-elect.

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