Caleb Campbell -- Army soldier, Lions draftee ... Olympic bobsledder?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Clay Travis at AOL's Fanhouse caught up with Lions 2008 seventh-round draft choice Caleb Campbell. The Army DB had his NFL dream snatched away when the Army reversed policy.

Campbell can't pursue the NFL until late 2010. But while at West Point, regulations do allow would-be athletes to pursue Olympics training as part of their military commitment.

While at West Point, Campbell has been training at Lake Placid, N.Y., to make the U.S. Bobsled Team in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

After being contacted by a member of the U.S. bobsledding team in July of 2008, Campbell has thrown himself into the training and pronounces himself in the best shape of his life. "Some days, it hurts to get out of bed," he says.

Travis trained with Campbell leading up to the 2008 draft, and wrote about it for Fanhouse and Sports Illustrated.
As the brakeman, the last member of the four-man team to jump back into the bobsled, Campbell provides the final push down the chute after other members of the team have helped to start the bobsled from a standing position. Campbell's position requires speed, explosiveness, and great strength. Not to mention the dexterity to swing into the bobsled after it's already gained a tremendous amount of speed. All while running full speed on a concrete track covered with artificial ice. While Campbell's not the first football player to make the transition to bobsledding -- former running back Herschel Walker was a member of the Olympic team in 1992 and former wide receiver Willie Gault was a member of the 1988 Olympic team -- he certainly never believed he would find himself training for the Winter Olympics.

Campbell has improved immensely, Travis says. Campbell won two silver medals and a bronze in a competition last April.
But if he doesn't make the team and commence full-time training for his Olympic dream, Campbell will await orders to report wherever the Army assigns him. He'll train with a unit and then he'll ship out for active duty. Maybe to Iraq, maybe to Afghanistan.

"I told my superiors a while back that I was ready to serve. Not to coddle me," he says. "We'll see."

Read the whole story. It's a good read. I especially like that Campbell is doing this because he's an athlete and loves the competition. He's not trying to get out of his military commitment, as he points out.

Here's hoping he makes the Olympic team, then gives the Lions another shot.

Talk about it in The Den!