Former Army football standout Brett Toth will have a chance to go pro after Army officials signed a waiver allowing him to bypass the remainder of his military commitment and instead sign with an NFL team.
CNN, ESPN and numerous other news outlets reported that the Philadelphia Eagles were expected to make a formal announcement on agreeing to a contract with Toth on Friday evening.
Toth, a 2018 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, started a game during each of his four years at the school and played every contest his senior season. Under existing Defense Department rules, he was required to serve at least two years in the active-duty Army before being considered for a waiver to pursue a professional sports career.
But President Donald Trump, in an event with the Army football team last May, announced he wanted to revisit those rules, saying that it would “make recruiting a little bit easier” for the service academies sports teams.
The president said he wants a waiver to allow those athletes to play professionally right away, and defer their active-duty commitments until later.
In June, White House officials announced Trump had instructed Pentagon officials to develop new rules for the athletes with outstanding military obligations, in particular those who are selected in professional sports drafts.
Army officials did not return requests for comment on Toth’s waiver. CNN reported that acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy signed the paperwork for Toth to play professional football on Thursday night.
Toth, who was listed at 6-foot-6-inches and nearly 300 pounds in the Army football media guide, would join the professional ranking just a few weeks before the start of the new season.
The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl two years ago and finished in the second round of the playoffs last season.
The new policy will let promising athletes defer their five-year service commitment if they are drafted to play professional sports.
Earlier this year, the Minnesota Vikings selected Air Force long snapper Austin Cutting in the seventh round of the 2019 National Football League draft. He has been practicing with the team throughout training camp this summer.
At least three other service academy graduates are currently on NFL rosters: San Francisco 49ers guard Ben Garland, a former airman; Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a former soldier; and New England Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona, who still serves as a naval reservist.