Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and along with it comes a number of different ways to celebrate.
Many Americans view the weekend as a a ceremonial kickoff to summer, gathering together to cook out on the grill and play some yard games, us football fans know that the weeks surrounding it often go hand in hand with OTAs, but for Joe Cardona it means taking time to reflect and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
This week, Cardona appeared on the Patriot Nation Podcast and spoke about his service and football career, as well as the effort that he and USAA are making to help promote awareness this Memorial Day through PoppyInMemory.com.
“Most people don’t come in contact with that many service members or veterans ... these opportunities to learn about the military are always good to take, especially on a day like Memorial Day that for a lot of service members is a somber day. A day of remembrance for the heroes that have made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
As a service member himself, Cardona reflected on the ways in which his military service have helped transform him into a leader for the New England Patriots.
“The core values of honor, courage, and commitment ... were really driven into me at the naval academy. They played a role in every single thing you did, every day. To carry that with me has provided me [with] perspective on what it means to play in the NFL, and it’s not just grown men playing a boys game. We play an important role in society in a lot of ways,” he said.
“When it comes to what it means in our community, we have seen so many guys stepping up this last year to play a role in our society in getting back to normal in times of crisis. Leaders of men that have practiced and prepared for great endeavors, military veterans that answer the call when it comes to supporting their community, but it’s also a lot of football players and professional athletes that have perspective on what it takes to accomplish a mission. Things get done when that level of leadership steps in.”
Cardona happens to be one of those leaders, as a sailor, a Patriot, and long snapper. Setting the tone for the future of the position, specifically when it comes to value in the draft.
“When I came into the league, I was one of the first guys drafted in ten or so years, and it was unheard of.” When mentioning the possibility of being drafted at the 2015 Senior Bowl, Cardona mentioned that one undisclosed GM “laughed at me and said, ‘we don’t draft long snappers.’” Six years later, two long snappers were drafted. Bringing the streak up to six straight years with at least one being drafted.
“It shows that the operation starts with us, but really we can take a bigger role on the team as well because we’re connecting those specialists with the rest of the team and we have to play both roles.” Cardona said, “Excited to see more guys get drafted and get more opportunities. Hopefully our pay scale can change too.”
Cardona touched on all of these things, as well as, the growing specialist room, Cameron Achord and the special teams success as a unit in 2020, and he even answered some fan questions in his chat with Keagan Stiefel. You can catch the full interview in podcast form in the link above.
Please make sure to subscribe to the Pats Pulpit Podcast Network on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts and to visit PoppyInMemory.com, USAA’s effort this Memorial Day that encourages all Americans to offer a digital tribute to our fallen military heroes. On the site, you will be able to see how to dedicate a virtual poppy to a hero that gave their life in battle, the ability to learn about each military conflict and the losses suffered, and more.