Typically, NFL teams do not invest draft picks in long snappers. The New England Patriots, however, are not your typical NFL team, which is why seeing them select Naval Academy long snapper Joe Cardona in the fifth round of the 2015 draft did not come as a surprise. Cardona has since become a core member of the kicking game operation, one that earned a four-year contract extension earlier this offseason.
His loyalties are not limited to the Patriots, though, as the 26-year old also serves in the U.S. Navy. Not only does he work as a Lieutenant Junior Grade, he has also led numerous military support initiatives over the course of his three-year career. Cardona hosted special re-enlistment and retirement ceremonies, and free football clinics for military children at military bases all over New England.
Given his commitment to both football and the Navy, it is only logical to see the Patriots make Cardona their 2018 nominee for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA — the third straight year that New England nominates him. Earlier this season, the organization also named Cardona as its 2018 Ron Burton Community Service Award winner for his exemplary work off the field.
The award, which is handed out annually since 2011, honors NFL members, who demonstrate “exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community”. Finalists will be announced in January, while the actual award will be given out as part of the NFL Honors ceremony on February 2.