Patriots’ Joe Cardona happy with military deferment update – New England Patriots Blog

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quick thoughts and notes about the New England Patriots and the NFL:

1. Billing provision hits the starting point: Joe Cardona has spearheaded the Patriots’ connection to the military for the past eight seasons.

The long snapper graduated from the Naval Academy and was able to defer his military service to continue his NFL career. He has regularly spoken to members of the organization about his dual status, doing everything from presiding over a reinstatement ceremony on the practice field to being promoted to lieutenant in front of teammates and having owner Robert Kraft introduce him as the team’s honor of service nominee this year. .

So when a congressional bill passed last week that won’t give others the same opportunity Cardona had, it resonated with him.

“My time in the NFL has made me a better officer,” said Cardona, who had played in 140 straight games (including playoffs) since joining the Patriots as a fifth-round draft pick in 2015, a streak that was snapped Saturday against Cincinnati Bengals because of a torn tendon in one of his feet.

“It has shown me adversity on the biggest sporting stage in the world. It has given me the tools to lead groups of individuals who are all dealing with so many factors, whether it’s family issues, things going on at home, financial instability. Obviously, the makeup of an NFL roster, and the volatility that comes with it, these are all things that have honed my leadership skills and made me a better leader for it.”

The new bill, as originally written, would have ended the professional career of Army linebacker Andre Carter II — a possible first-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft — before it began.

But politicians sought to add new language that would make an exception for Carter and others in his situation, clarifying that any cadet or midshipman who first enrolled at the US Military Academy, the US Naval Academy or the US Air Force Academy before June 1 , 2021, will now be eligible for the NFL draft and can defer military service.

“It’s tough that this rolls into the news every few years. It really affects the athlete’s life a lot, when you’re also training intensely, you have intense military commitments, and the academic rigor of a service academy on top of that. It’s not an easy thing,” Cardona said.

“I felt terrible for Andre because I went through it myself. Getting an invitation to the Senior Bowl was a great opportunity, and the next thing you know, “Why is he doing this?” Andre is an incredible talent, a once-in-a-generation service academy player. I look forward to seeing him play on Sundays now that he’s grandfathered into what he really signed up for when he confirmed his service commitment. I think the policy as it was was very good.”

Some veterans and supporters of the military who were not in favor of the policy have noted that officers who pursued athletic careers were not held to the same commitment as their peers.

However, Cardona said he believes there were overall benefits for all involved.

“For the military, the service academies, and for football and athletes, it was a policy where service was postponed. All that means is that it’s put on hold while I get this opportunity, and when I’m done with it, it’s time to go back and do my job and begin my five years of active duty,” he explained.

“I think when you really look at it, and consider the likelihood of a career that goes beyond that league average at [around 3 years] is so minimal that the athlete receives the equivalent of a master’s degree timeframe in performance and leadership at the highest level. When you expect leaders to be exceptional, you have to put them in exceptional situations.”

Cardona has found the connection between the two powerful.

“Other than my rookie year when I was on active duty as a reservist, some of the greatest pride I have as an NFL player are the moments when I get to share this world with my fellow servicemen and women,” he said.

“I think about moments when a kid is with his parents who are in the Navy, and I get to tell that kid — while I’m in football gear — that I work with their mom and dad and see their faces light up. That resonates with me .So, when I’m overseas and on a base, and I talk to other service members, I tell them about all the things that go on in the Patriots building that make us the team that we are.

“Maybe they take some of that back to their unit and pass it on, and who knows how many people get to experience a leadership that we have here in New England or the NFL as a whole, that will improve the lives of the people they work with.”

2. Cardona’s row: In missing his first NFL game after playing 140 straight, Cardona said there’s a lot that goes into that kind of run, including some luck. He then added: “The streak is secondary to the feeling of not being able to be out there with the guys.”

3. Red zone blue: One reason the Patriots entered Saturday as the NFL’s lowest-rated unit in the red zone (38% TD rate) was penalties. Their 10 red zone flags were tied for the most in the NFL. Mac Jones’ unnecessary roughness penalty after Rhamondre Stevenson’s fumble added an 11th on Saturday as the Patriots found another way to implode inside the 20-yard line.

4. Holds together: While the Patriots’ season hasn’t panned out the way many hoped, longtime captain Devin McCourty hasn’t seen a split in the ranks. “I’m not worried about the guys turning on each other or the coaching staff,” he said. “I think it’s more like [the] articles people write. If I were a fan, I’d enjoy reading it too – it’s like a look inside the wardrobe – and whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter. But I don’t think we have the type of guys, character-wise, to turn around and say, ‘It’s his fault.'”

5. LB’s surprise: After not selecting an off-the-ball linebacker in the 2022 draft, the Patriots appeared to be rolling the dice on a season where they lost Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy & Co. But in one of the more notable surprises of the season, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jahlani Tavai and Raekwon McMillan have exceeded expectations. Bentley, who finished with 11 tackles on Saturday, easily leads the team in double-digit tackles. “They’re just not told how to do it, and they don’t care. Hats off to them, outside linebacker Matthew Judon said.

6. Stueber’s return: An unexpected development last week was rookie offensive tackle Andrew Stueber (seventh round, Michigan) practicing for the first time since being placed on the non-football injury list this spring with a torn hamstring. Coach Bill Belichick was noncommittal when asked if Stueber could work his way into the action this season, which seems like a long shot. Stueber’s teammates were happy to see him. “I know he’s excited to get back and do what he loves — it’s big for him to get some reps and try to remember how to do this,” starting center David Andrews said.

7. OT future: At the very least, the Patriots can take a closer look at Stueber and determine how likely he is to be a significant part of their plans. With Isaiah Wynn and Yodny Cajuste slated for free agency after the 2022 season, and Trent Brown entering the final year of his contract in 2023, offensive tackle could be their No. 1 priority in the draft.

8. Pro Bowl: It’s hard for the Patriots to have any legitimate problems with only one Pro Bowler (Judon), but rookie Marcus Jones (13.6 yards per punt return with 1 TD and 24.9 yards per kickoff return) would be the strongest snub candidate. He has had a better season than the Jets’ Braxton Berrios (11.9 yards on punt returns; 22.6 yards on kickoffs with no TDs).

9. Did You Know, Part I: The Bengals entered Saturday having lost seven straight at the Patriots, with their last win coming in 1986. They entered the game 2-10 all-time on the road against New England, the third-worst road record of any team against the Patriots ( including playoffs) behind the Jaguars (0-9) and Texans (0-7).

10. Did You Know, Part II: Entering Saturday, the Patriots were just the third team since the 1970 merger to lose on a defensive or special teams touchdown in regulation; the previous two teams to do so (2015 Browns, 2010 Giants) each lost their next games by a combined 62 points.

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