SACRAMENTO, CALIF., AUG. 31 -- Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) received a medical exemption at the peak of his pro football career that allowed him to continue playing while the rest of his Army Reserve unit was activated for the Berlin crisis, The Sacramento Bee reported today.

The newspaper said that Kemp, who is seeking his party's presidential nomination, confirmed the accuracy of records that the newspaper obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. But Kemp said he never asked to be excused from duty when his reserve unit was mobilized in 1961.

While other men in the San Diego-based 977th Transportation Company were ordered to active duty Oct. 15, 1961, at Fort Lewis, Wash., Kemp, because of a shoulder injury, was granted a medical exemption that allowed him to lead the San Diego Chargers to their second consecutive division title, passing for 2,686 yards and completing 15 touchdown passes.

The newspaper said Kemp, a strong supporter of defense spending during his 17 years in Congress, stressed in a telephone interview that it was the Army's idea, not his, to give him a medical exemption, and that military records confirm that account.

"I didn't request that {exemption}. Like all people, I wanted to do what was right. I must admit I was married and had a child, but I certainly would've done whatever I was called to do," Kemp told The Bee.

"It ought to be pretty clear . . . that I did nothing to try to stay out," Kemp added.

Kemp, now 52, was the leading passer in what was then the American Football League in 1960. A Sept. 3, 1961, injury to his left shoulder, while not hampering the right-handed Kemp's playing career, prompted an examination that exempted him from being activated with his military unit, which spent 10 months at Fort Lewis on active status until tensions eased in Berlin.

J.W. Best, who was one of the doctors who examined Kemp for the military in 1961, told The Bee there was no question that Kemp should not be allowed to go on active duty, and that there was no pressure from outside sources to give the star quarterback any special treatment.

"There were questions even then about how could he be unfit {for the Army} but still play football," Best said. "But I told them, 'Look, it's not a matter of life or death on that football field.' "

The Bee said Kemp's account also was confirmed by former Charger tackle Ron Mix, who was Kemp's roommate for the 1961 season and was also a member of the 977th. Mix said he was denied a deferment from the 1961 call-up even though he was sole support for his mother, and that he rotated duties with his fellow Army cooks on weekends in the 1961 season in order to fly to Charger games to play.

"Strangely enough, it was completely legitimate," Mix said of Kemp's medical exemption. "He had a chronically separated shoulder, and he literally had to be shot up with painkillers to play. As crazy as it sounds, he was not fit to serve in the Army but fit for football, where the philosophy was play with pain."

{John Buckley, a spokesman for Kemp's campaign, confirmed that Kemp was not called to active duty, but stressed that the standards for active duty in the Army are rigid and Kemp did not pass them, United Press International reported.

{"He did play football that year, receiving Novocain shots," Buckley said, according to the UPI report.}