Player Resource: Character & Commitment

Mike Reiss, ESPN (

No NFL player has the type of work week that New England Patriots rookie long snapper Joe Cardona does.

On Sunday, he snaps for the undefeated Patriots, often delivering perfect strikes for Pro Bowl kicker Stephen Gostkowski and punter Ryan Allen. During the week, he practices with the team and attends meetings, but when most of his teammates go home after a long day, Cardona often doesn’t.

That’s when he heads to his other job, working at the Naval Preparatory Academy in Newport, R.I., as part of his duties as an active member of the Navy.

“It’s long days, and there are not really any days off, but the balance has been good,” Cardona said. “It’s a lot of tough work, but I’m lucky to be out here and getting this opportunity.”

Cardona, 23, is the only active player in the NFL who is also an active member of the military, which is a neat story to relay any day, but especially on Veterans Day.

“So he’s balanced them. It’s hard enough to be a rookie in this league when this is your only job. He has two jobs, so that’s more challenging, but that’s something that people like Joe, who have been in the Naval Academy, have experience with — time management, multi-tasking, doing different things and handling different levels of responsibility physically, mentally and emotionally.”

A native of El Cajon, California, who was a star football and lacrosse player in high school, Cardona’s standing as an active member of the Navy has been reflected in how he dressed in his Navy Whites before and after games. Just as the Navy has, he has since switched to Service Dress Blues.

“It’s a comfort factor for me,” he said. “It’s what we showed up to games in at the Naval Academy. It’s sticking with what works.”

For the two teammates he’s closest with, Gostkowski and Allen, it’s been a perspective-filled experience working together.

“You can tell he’s just so disciplined, coming from the Naval Academy; he’s come in and worked hard, kept his head down, and he’s humble and has a lot of respect for everyone and how they do it,” Gostowski said. “He has his job on the side serving our country, which is some of the highest respect you can have. It’s the kind of thing I’ve never been around and it’s been cool to be a part of.”

Gostkowski said he sees it, too.

“Joe’s doing great,” he said. “A lot more goes into it than people think. For every one snap Joe does in a game it is probably hundreds of snaps in practice. He’s done a good job, and he can take coaching very well. He just says ‘yes sir’ and does his job.”

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