Napoleon McCallum, the former Navy All-American and Raider running back, said Wednesday he expects to be transferred to a local Naval recruiting office here in May. And if the Navy doesn’t change its regulations allowing personnel to work an outside job part time, he said he expects to play for the Chargers in the fall.
The Chargers obtained McCallum last October in a move that completed the terms of the controversial July trade that sent offensive lineman Jim Lachey to the Raiders for offensive lineman John Clay. The deal was controversial because Clay reported to the Chargers overweight and then missed most of the season with a neck injury.
McCallum, who recently completed the sea portion of his Naval obligation, requested orders last November that would place him in the San Diego recruiting office. He must now attend a recruiting officers school in Orlando, Fla., that begins April 17 and ends May 10. If he then passes an exam, he would become eligible for assignment to San Diego.
“There’s nothing definite right now, but I’m going to be working (for the Navy) in San Diego,” McCallum said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
He is so confident of that assignment that he recently entered an escrow agreement to purchase a house in north San Diego.
McCallum’s biggest concern is that the Navy could change its rules about allowing personnel to be employed in an outside part-time job.
“I should be allowed to play,” McCallum said when contacted by phone aboard the guided missile cruiser California, currently in port in Alameda. “But, if they (the Navy) want to make it so I can’t play, they can. My situation is real political. It all depends on who’s in office and what their feelings are.”
Naval officials were unavailable for comment Wednesday.
The Chargers are cautiously optimistic about having McCallum on the field next fall. Owner Alex Spanos stopped short of saying he expected McCallum in uniform next season. But, when asked if McCallum’s attempt to purchase a house meant the Chargers could expect McCallum this year, Spanos said, “I’m pretty sure it does.”
Steve Ortmayer, the Chargers’ director of football operations, emphasized the Chargers were “in no way” involved in McCallum’s attempts to obtain the transfer to San Diego. “Other than that,” he said. “I have no comment.”
McCallum said he talked briefly with Ortmayer Wednesday.
When the McCallum part of the trade was announced last October, the Chargers came under further criticism because McCallum’s Naval obligations extended through December, 1989. What the Chargers didn’t reveal was that McCallum’s sea obligation would end early this year. According to McCallum, the Navy cannot assign him to duty at sea between now and the end of his obligation without his permission.
McCallum, 28, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in December, 1985 and was a fourth-round draft choice of the Raiders the following spring. He was assigned to the amphibious assault ship Peleliu, which was docked in Long Beach during the subsequent NFL season.
Splitting time between the Navy and the Raiders, McCallum, 6-feet-2 and 215 pounds, gained 536 yards on 142 carries and scored one touchdown. He returned eight kickoffs for a 22.9-yard average and seven punts for a 6.3 yard average. He also caught 13 passes. He started five games and rushed for a season-high 84 yards against Houston.
But the Navy subsequently reassigned him from the Peleliu to the California, berthed in Alameda. Geography prevented him from fulfilling his Naval duties and being a Raider. He did not play in 1987 or 1988.
“That’s a tough question,” McCallum said when asked if he was in physical condition to play football. “I don’t have anyone to judge against to know if I’m in football shape.”
The addition of McCallum to the Chargers would give them a big, fast back to complement Gary Anderson, who gained 1,119 yards last season, third best in the AFC. It also would mean they could eliminate one of their many areas of need before next month’s NFL draft.