There's no denying that servicemembers are among the most physically fit people in the world, but do their skills translate to the football field? One Navy officer is about to find out. Eric Kettani is trying to find his way on to the roster of the Washington Redskins, and the team's coaches feel good about his chances, according to The Associated Press.
An unusual path
Although the service academies have storied gridiron traditions, especially with Navy being a postseason staple in recent years, it's not all that often that you see servicemembers in the NFL. However, Kettani has been close for the last several years. He began his career with the New England Patriots but was on the team's reserve list because he was serving three years of active duty. Last season, he was on the Patriots' practice squad, but after being released he found his way to Washington. Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is certainly impressed with his work ethic both on and off the field.
"It's quite unusual to do what he's done," he told the AP. "To have that type of drive [to do] what he does for the service [and] what he does on the football field keeps him pretty busy. He's got a chance to compete for a position."
Kettani, who played running back at Navy, is confident he can make the final cut as well. He says he understands the game better now than he did when he was in school, and anticipates being added to the final 53-man roster when the season begins in September.
While he has yet to make the final roster,Kettani is already breathing rarified air. Not many graduates from the service academies have achieved NFL stardom in recent years. Perhaps the most famous Naval Academy graduate to make it big in professional football, Super Bowl MVP Roger Staubach, retired from the Dallas Cowboys more than 30 years ago. The last Naval Academy graduate to play in the NFL was also a running back. Kyle Eckel, who graduated in 2005, enjoyed a brief but successful career with the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints, where he won a Super Bowl in 2009. He last played in 2010 with the Denver Broncos.