By Leo Haggerty


With the Buccaneers Mini Camp coming to a close yesterday and the Lightning moving on to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I’m going to combine that into one column this week. That’s seems like the logical thing to do, right?


Before I go there, I want to comment on the biggest national story of the week.  It revolved around the Buccaneers Mini Camp and it wasn’t about any of the players that were there.  It was about an undrafted free agent who wasn’t allowed to attend and why he was conspicuously absent from the practices.

The individual that I am referring to is Cameron Kinley.  The 6’2″ cornerback had just graduated from the Naval Academy and was fulfilling a life-long dream of playing in the National Football League.
Now, as you probably know, all service academy graduates must complete a pre-determined length of service.  Normally, that active-duty clock starts immediately upon graduation but that was changed a little over a year-and-a-half ago.

Now, in November of 2019 and at the insistence of President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper opened the door for athletes at the nation’s military academies to play professional sports after they graduate and delay their active-duty service.

Esper signed a memo laying out the new guidelines, which says the athletes must get approval from the defense secretary, and it requires them to eventually fulfill their military obligation or repay the costs of their education.

It looked like this ruling would pave the way for the Navy team captain and class president to have a shot at trying to make the Pewter Pirates roster but that was not the case.  According to the Memphis, TN native, the Secretary of the Navy had denied his request which, according to the new mandate, was well within the Navy’s right of refusal.

There has been a national firestorm over that decision.  The Navy has chosen to not allow one of their “best and brightest” stars an attempt to be a role model that would entice future men and women to pursue a career in the United States Navy.

The big question, which the Navy has not answered to this point in time, is why.  Let me put forth a possible scenario as to why Kinley was denied and why the Navy has been so tight-lipped about the entire situation.

I think everyone is missing the point as to why he got denied and it has to do with his area of academic expertise.  When he was interviewed on The Jim Rome Show yesterday, he revealed that his specialty is informational warfare. Immediately, my ears perked up when he said that.
Why, you ask?  Basically, he’s a walking genius cyberweapon!  I believe he may be so valuable to the Navy, and the Defense Department, that they cannot afford to let him out of his commitment because he has information vital to the security of the United States.
If you go back to Navy basketball player David Robinson, his expertise was submarine operations.  Now, obviously, you couldn’t put a 7 footer on a sub but, when “The Admiral” went overseas to play in the Olympics or other events on foreign soil, he had a special protection detail because of what he knew about submarines.
It may be the same case with Kinley.  The Navy may be banning him from trying to make it as an NFL player because he knows too much as it pertains to cyberwarfare.  That makes him a vital asset to national security that the Navy, along with the entire Defense Department, did not want to lose especially in this age of computer generated attacks.
Memo to the Navy.  If that’s the case, come clean and tell everyone that Kinley is more valuable to you fighting cyber attacks from inside and outside the United States than playing professional football.  Everyone, including Cameron, would understand.
Tampa Bay defeated Carolina 2-0 at the PNC Arena.  That victory secured the series for the Bolts by a count of 4 games to 1.  The Lightning now move on to face the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Semi Final round beginning on Sunday at Amalie Arena.
As I wrote in the earlier LIGHTNING RECAP GAMES 1 THROUGH 4, this series was almost a repeat of the previous games against Florida.  The only difference was Tampa Bay was able to dispatch the Hurricanes in five games as opposed to the six it took to send the Panthers packing.
In both series, the story of the clinching game was Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy who stopped all 29 Canes shots.  He threw a similar shutout in Game 6 in the first round defeating the Cats that clinched that series.
After another scoreless first 20 minutes, and there was only one game where either team dented the scoreboard in the first period, the Bolts lit up the scoreboard at 4:06 of the middle period.  F Brayden Point (8) scored what proved to be the winning goal converting a power play opportunity to put Tampa Bay up 1-0.
The Lightning chalked up an insurance marker at 9:04 of the third.  Ross Colton (3) slipped the puck past Hurricanes G Alex Nedeljkovic (23 saves on 25 shots) and that was the final arithmetic as the Bolts continue their march toward a second consecutive Stanley Cup.
Got a chance to talk with Offensive Tackle Tristan Wirfs along with Outside Linebacker Shaq Barrett.  Enjoy.
LH : Tristan, going back to Mount Vernon in Iowa, after the Super Bowl, you can’t have any anonymity anymore, right?
TW : No, not at all.  There’s a little thing, it’s our town festival and it’s called Heritage Days.  I’ll be able to go back for that.  I don’t know, but I think it’s suppose to be a surprise, but I think they’re doing something for me to celebrate the Super Bowl and everything.  That will be exciting for me.  Yeah, I love going back there.
LH : Shaq, when you look inside and you see #50 and #93 there and you know they’re going to eat up a lot of double teams, how nice is it for you to know that it’s going to be a one-on-one battle with you and the tackle?
SB : Oh, yeah.  It’s a pleasure to know that I have those two big guys inside that eat up the double teams.  They beat the double teams.  They make plays off the double teams so that frees me up and allows me to make moves that I’ve been setting up that I know they are going to work.  I’m happy to be here.  That’s why I didn’t want to leave.  It’s a great group of guys.  I know everybody top to bottom.  I know what they’re going to bring to the table and what they are going to continue to bring to the table.  Everything was perfect.  That’s why i didn’t want to leave.  I know my success is personal.  Numbers are personal but it’s a lot more than personal.  There’s a lot of aspects that go into it.