In case you, like Tom Flores, were wondering if there was any chance of extending the Navy-Raider career of ensign-tailback Napoleon McCallum, the answer apparently is no.
Any doubt that the announcement by new Navy Secretary James Webb bars McCallum from playing football seems to have been snuffed out Wednesday.
“Secretary Webb has announced that the duties of a military officer and the requirements of professional athletics are incompatible,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mark Neuhart, a spokesman for Webb, from Washington, D.C.
Was that a flat prohibition?
“Yes,” Neuhart said. “In accordance with the announcement by Secretary Webb, Ens. McCallum will not be able to participate in professional athletics, while serving on active duty in the Navy supply corps.”
Is there any prospect of McCallum’s leaving the supply corps?
“Yeah,” Neuhart said. “After five years.”
Actually, it’s four years, since the year McCallum has served counts. For the Raiders and McCallum, this will mean more in 1991 than it does today.
McCallum, attending supply school in Athens, Ga., was unavailable for comment. He is due to graduate in late June and to be issued new orders in late May. However, Neuhart said that there will be no “consideration or accommodation.”
A year ago, under John Lehman, then-Navy secretary who was more public relations oriented, McCallum was first assigned to supply school. Then, as he was on his way to Athens, his orders were changed and he was assigned to the Peleliu, a ship in dry dock in Long Beach, with an addendum that he was being allowed to play for the Raiders on a “not-to-interfere” basis.
McCallum would start work for the Navy at 6 a.m., finish his shift and then attend the 2:30 Raider practice. Afterward, he and backfield coach Ray Willsey would go over what he missed in the morning meetings.
The Navy took pains to point out that McCallum was only being extended the same rights to a second job that other officers already had. But no one else had an outside job in the NFL and the decision was controversial among sailors. The service paper, Navy Times, took a poll and found a lot of grumbling.
“Under the new policy, that (orders like last year’s) would be special accommodation,” Neuhart said.
McCallum was on the Raiders’ active roster all last season. When Marcus Allen was injured, he started five games. With 536 yards rushing, he ranked second on the team to Allen. He had a 3.8-yard average, solid, if not spectacular.
The Raiders thought that the 220-pound McCallum might become a fullback this season. If McCallum is unavailable, the No. 2 tailback will likely be Vance Mueller, last season’s rookie from Occidental. There has already been speculation that the Raiders might try to find a big fullback in the college draft April 28.