New England Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona has been named the recipient of the 2023 Salute to Service Award, the NFL and USAA announced on Wednesday.
The award recognizes the exceptional efforts by members of the NFL that honor and support the military community. As for Cardona, the 31-year old has a long relationship with the United States Naval Academy as both a football player and current Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve.
“Joe Cardona represents the epitome of the NFL’s Salute to Service Award,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “His commitment to honoring, empowering, and connecting with the military community as an active service member, while also dedicated to his Patriots teammates, truly sets him apart.
“He is the true embodiment of what it means to be an American hero. The entire NFL family salutes Joe for his service to our country and congratulates him as the recipient of this important award.”
Cardona has remained an active participant in helping active-duty service members and veterans throughout his nine-year NFL career. He currently serves as a department head of Maritime Security Squadron 8 in which he oversees the logistical needs of 500 sailors across the eastern seaboard. Cardona has also joined numerous organizations dedicated to assisting his fellow service members, veterans
, and their families.
“It is a tremendous honor to receive the NFL Salute to Service Award. I am thankful to the New England Patriots organization for accommodating my military service and I hope to be a model for future players who wish to serve,” said Cardona. “I appreciate the partnership between the NFL and our military and the role I have been able to play in it. On the field, I hope to represent the fighting spirit of our veterans, as well as my brothers and sisters in arms whom I serve alongside today.
“I am proud to be the son of Patrick Cardona, a 24-year Navy veteran, and Margeret Cardona, who embodies the strength and selflessness of a military spouse. I am proud to be an Officer in the United States Navy and player in the NFL; with or without recognition I will continue to do my job.”
Cardona will be recognized at the NFL honors on Thursday, Feb. 8 in Las Vegas. In addition, USAA will contribute $25,000 in Cardona’s honor to the official aid societies representing each of the military branches, while the NFL Foundation will match USAA’s donation to Cardona’s military charity of choice.