Former Navy running back Napoleon McCallum, a fourth-round draft choice of the Raiders, has signed a contract with the team and is expected to attend a rookie training camp next week, it was learned Friday.
McCallum has a five-year obligation to the Navy, but the possibility loomed that McCallum may be able to play for the Raiders before completing his service. He will be stationed in Long Beach this fall.
The unexpected signing of the Navy All-American caught several people by surprise, including McCallum himself.
"When he was drafted, he continued to get into shape and everything, but lately he's been putting on a few pounds," McCallum's father, Napoleon, said from the family's home in Milford, Ohio. "Now, it's sort of a last-minute preparation. He's really out of shape, and I think that will be the hardest thing to overcome.
"He was prepared for the five-year layoff. He was kind of sitting back and not figuring he would play football this year. . . . This sort of throws him for a loop as far as conditioning goes."
So, it will be a slightly weak-legged McCallum, about five pounds overweight, who will check into camp with the other Raider rookies next Wednesday at Oxnard--after signing his contract Thursday and starting a 30-day leave from the Navy that begins Wednesday.
What will happen after August, when he'll be assigned to the USS Peleliu, an amphibious helicopter landing ship in Long Beach, is open to speculation. However, it is possible that the National College Athletic Assn.'s all-purpose career yardage leader might see some action in the National Football League this season.
"To the best of my knowledge, he will use his personal leave, of which he has a month, to come to training camp," said Steve Ortmayer, the Raiders' director of football operations. "But other than that, we're not quite sure what happens next after practice.
"Quite honestly, the Raiders signed him to protect their own rights. We didn't want a Bo Jackson type of thing," Ortmayer said, referring to the Auburn running back who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but wound up signing a pro baseball contract, instead.
Said Raider executive assistant Al LoCasale: "Our plans would be determined by his plans with the Navy. They have a long-term commitment with him. They have first call on his services. We will have him in training camp and keep some football in his system. Beyond that is pure conjecture."
During McCallum's leave, the Raiders will play their first exhibition game--in San Francisco against the 49ers on Aug. 10--but LoCasale would not speculate on whether McCallum would play.
McCallum, who was married in June and has been living near the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., all summer, is in the process of relocating to Southern California and was not available for comment Friday.
But Cmdr. Kendell Pease of the Navy's public information office in Washington told the Associated Press: "We know what we want, and we get first choice. The demands of the Navy come first."
Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but the Daily Breeze reported in its Friday editions that McCallum will receive $100,000 immediately as part of a $700,000 bonus when his tour of duty ends.
LoCasale would not confirm any details of the contract but would say that the signing gives the Raiders some valuable options.
"This gives us the rights to two things," LoCasale said. "It gives us the right to maintain his rights until he's finished with the service and it allows him to participate in training camp."
Said McCallum's father: "I just heard about it (the signing) today myself while listening to the radio. That was news to me. But that was good news to me if it's the truth."
McCallum rushed for 1,327 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.