Navy: Eckel can't play in NFL, must fulfill officer obligation

Fullback has to return to academy prep school

Pro Football

September 08, 2005|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Kyle Eckel's budding NFL career will have to wait. The former Navy fullback has been denied permission to play for the Miami Dolphins and will return to Newport, R.I., where he is an assistant to the athletic director at the Naval Academy Prep School.

"Ensign Eckel will fulfill his active duty service obligation as an officer in the Navy and will not be able to play for the Miami Dolphins," Lt. Erin Bailey, a Navy spokesman, said yesterday.

"He will remain assigned to the Naval Academy until he reports to his ship in January."

Eckel, who rushed for more than 2,300 yards the past two years at Navy, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New England Patriots in April. He was waived with last cuts on Saturday, and claimed by the Dolphins.

Eckel, 23, is a surface warfare officer in training, and is assigned to the Naval Academy. In January, the academy requested that Eckel be released from his active duty commitment to play in the NFL, but the request was denied by William A. Navas, Jr., the assistant secretary of the Navy in charge of manpower and reserve affairs.

Bailey said that, "Navy policy requires at least two years of active duty service before being eligible for release from active duty to participate in activities with potential recruiting or public affairs benefit for the Navy or Marine Corps."

She said that Eckel can submit a request as he nears completion of his minimum active duty service requirement.

Eckel is scheduled to report to the USS Kearsarge in Norfolk, Va., in January.

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