New England’s 5th-Round Pick a Patriot in More Ways Than One

Joe Cardona AP
Foxboro, Mass

The New England Patriots drafted Navy’s Joe Cardona in the fifth round and guaranteed him $100,000 to long snap footballs because he hikes them at lightning speed.

Joe loves football but he also loves serving his country. The 2015 Annapolis graduate has a five-year service commitment with the United States Navy, which could pose a bit of a conundrum for Patriots coach Bill Belichick. 

The 6-foot-three, 236-pound Cardona now attends the Naval Academy preparatory school in Newport, Rhode Island a mere 50 miles south of Foxboro.

Belichick told, “He’s been here for pretty much everything that we’ve done…. the Navy has been very cooperative in terms of his responsibilities, but he’s in the Navy. He’s on duty. It’s not like he’s getting out of anything. He’s active. We’ve been able to work the schedules out, so we’ll see how it goes.”

The Super Bowl champions drafted Cardona fully aware that they would need to work around his Navy schedule and that it could pose some conflicts with team practices and games. As a result, Cardona didn’t receive the standard $189,532 he would have received if he didn’t have a pact with the Navy.

The Patriots infused the Midshipman’s contract with incentive bonuses to compensate Cardona if he ends up making the 53-man roster and performs.

Cmdr. Chris Servello, a spokesman for the chief of Navy personnel, told Sporting News that he sees value for the Navy to let Cardona play. “The opportunity for Joe to show off the kind of person he is, and the kind of person our military academies produce, is something that both Joe and the Patriots can benefit from.’’

This is not the first time the U.S. military and a professional sports team shared personnel. NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson played with the San Antonio Spurs and was able to fulfill his role as a Naval officer. Moreover, running back Napoleon McCallum was stationed on a ship in Long Beach in 1986 during his time with the Los Angeles Raiders.