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Ens. McCallum and the Raiders

August 29, 1986

As a 1978 graduate of the Naval Academy, I could not disagree more with your editorial (Aug. 20), "Bad Precedent," concerning Ens. Napoleon McCallum and the Navy's permission to let him play football with the Los Angeles Raiders. I like to think that in special circumstances there are exceptions to every rule, and this is one of those circumstances.

To compare McCallum to Glenn Davis and Roger Staubach is unfair and unrealistic. The world of professional sports has changed drastically since their days and the chances of a player today starting as a rookie after a five-year absence from his sport are very remote.

The expense of his education is also unimportant. The Los Angeles Raiders could pay the government back the cost of his education in four-year increments just as McCallum accrued his obligation.

One thing must be said about a service academy education. Two years ago McCallum had an opportunity to transfer to another school and take two years education free from the government with no obligation whatsoever. Those of us who went to the Naval Academy know that you don't transfer from Annapolis, you "quit"!

I'm sure McCallum's pride and dedication to a school he loved and pressure not to let down the brigade of midshipmen who cheered for him, prevented him from quitting. He knew he'd probably be throwing away his career, but he stayed and was a source of pride for all Naval Academy graduates past and present and naval personnel the world over.

So I say, put that petty jealousy aside and let him play professional football "full time," transfer him to the reserves and give Navy men and women a player to cheer for in the National Football League, just as USC or UCLA fans have. Do not cheat this young man out of an opportunity of a lifetime because he stuck it out at Navy!

JOHN H. SEMCKEN

Manhattan Beach

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