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At Sea No More

A naval officer gets the nod to pursue his NFL dream

On April 25, Lieut. (J.G.) Eric Kettani got the call he had been waiting for: He was released from the Navy and free to become another kind of Patriot. Kettani, a fullback, had made New England's practice squad last September while on 21-day leave, but a month later he was recalled to active duty to serve his remaining 2½ years (SI, Oct. 17, 2011). He rejoined his unit as a repair division officer on the USS Klakring, which went to sea for two months. Back on land, Kettani (above right, with brother Amir) worked out with Jacksonville University players in hope that the Navy would reverse course.

Kettani's release comes with seven years of reserve duty, and he must repay the cost of his education, $60,000. But the Navy sees the recruiting benefits of its association with an NFL athlete, and Kettani, an active tweeter, will be expected to promote the service branch, including wearing his dress whites to games if activated by New England. Says Kettani, who has exchanged voice mails with Bill Belichick and was headed to the Patriots' minicamp this week: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I've got to seize it."