“With the 30th pick of the fifth round, number 166 overall, the world champion New England Patriots choose Joe Cardona, long-snapper, Navy.”
For Joe Cardona, hearing his name called on the final day of the 2015 draft was likely a dream come true, especially since most football players at the Naval Preparatory Academy in Newport, Rhode Island don’t carry high hopes of playing professionally with them as other college football players do. “I have a lot of people supporting me,” Cardona told the Boston Globe in 2015. “Since graduation I’ve had a lot of busy days, been showing up for work every single day, whether it be here or down in Newport. I’m working and it’s just great to be here.” Cardona became only the fourth “pure” long-snapper ever to be drafted into the NFL (and the second by the New England Patriots) when the Patriots chose him almost two summers ago. Elon student Charlie Bramhall is a Massachusetts native and a huge Pats fan, but he says he wasn’t aware that Cardona was splitting his time between football and the military. “That’s honestly fascinating to me that someone in the NFL has time to be in the Navy at the same time,” Bramhall said. “Obviously he has a huge love for both Navy and for football. To be able to follow your passion for football but to also serve your country, even in the smallest way, it’s just awesome.”
Cardona, who is originally from El Cajon, California first had to be cleared by the Navy before he could begin practicing and playing for the Patriots.
While some originally speculated that Cardona may have had to put his NFL career on hold while he completed his military duties, United States Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus told “The Dan Patrick Show” in May of 2016 that both Cardona and fellow Navy graduate and current Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Keenan Reynolds would be cleared to play full-time in the NFL, as well as fulfill their obligations in the Naval Reserve Force at a later date.This is not the first time the New England Patriots have employed an active member of the Navy on their roster, fullback Kyle Eckel also had an assignment at the Naval Preparatory Academy. Eckel reportedly traveled to the academy in Newport on the team’s days off to fulfill his duties and obligations. You can catch Joe Cardona in the Super Bowl this Sunday where he’ll be representing not only the New England Patriots but also representing his country.