Joe Cardona has two jobs that are not widely recognized.
Cardona is a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots as a long snapper. He is also a lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve. He is one of a select group of NFL Academy football players. During Memorial Day weekend, Cardona will partner with the USAA to ensure veterans who have lost their lives receive the attention they deserve. The USAA is leading an effort to provide digital tributes to fallen service members on PoppyInMemory.com.
“It does a great job of making it a resource that shines a light on the people who made this ultimate sacrifice for us,” Cardona told Sporting News. “You can go on and learn more about these people who have fallen since WWI.”
MORE: Seven Crazy Stats From Adam Vinatieri’s Long NFL Career
Cardona was a New England fifth-round pick in 2015 and competed in the OTAs ahead of his seventh season this week. He was also promoted to lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 2019, and he maintained this dual duty with the full support of the Patriots.
Cardona has said that Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose father Steve was an assistant coach in the Navy from 1956 to 1989, is a fan of contender football. They have conversations about Navy football and Cardona’s dueling career throughout the season.
“The balance as a reservist and an NFL player – on the reserve side it’s like any of my fellow Reservists, flight mates or airmen who have that role,” he said. . “I take great pride in my role as a reservist and ultimately take a lot of NFL experience with me.
“It has been a tremendous resource in making me a better officer,” he said. “As an NFL player there aren’t a lot of other guys with day jobs outside of the league.”
Cardona is one of 13 players in the NFL’s service academies, and Baltimore’s Alejandro Villanueva, whose first season was in 2014, is the only one to have played longer. Military players can now get waivers to delay NFL service, and five players have been signed to those academies this season.
NFL Academy Football Players
|Garrett griffin||YOU||The Saints||Aviation||2016|
“The hope is that we do things the right way, to represent the Department of Defense, the Navy, our respective branches and those of us who are still playing so that other players can have the same opportunity.” , Cardona said.
Cardona, who played against former Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry, now with the Dolphins, in 2020, said the fraternity is expected to continue to grow in the seasons to come.
“It’s a small list,” he said. “It’s always great to play against guys who have a similar background and who stand for similar values. It’s always great to play against guys from the Army and Air Force. The rivalry continues. a little bit, but it’s a great experience for all of us. ”
Visit USAA for more information on the Fallen Service Tribute at PoppyInMemory.com. “It is an honor to be involved with the USAA in any capacity, but above all to honor those who have fallen and made the ultimate sacrifice. It means so much more, and any time to do so. thinking is always a good opportunity, ”said Cardona. .