Navy long-snapper Joe Cardona was the 178th overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft on Saturday, but the fifth-rounder of the New England Patriots is more concerned with his overarching commitment to patriotism.
Cardona, the first player from the Academy drafted since 1995, is required to serve a five-year tour as part of his Navy scholarship.
“The decision is out of my hands. Right now I’m prepared to be the best football player I can be for the New England Patriots and the best naval officer I can be,” Cardona said. “Whatever duty I’m doing at the time I’m doing it, I’m just prepared to do my best.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was raised around the Navy program. He fondly discusses watching film with his father and Navy players, including Roger Staubach, when his early love of football was born.
“I’ve known his history through just being there at the facilities there at Navy. The Belichick Library — a lot of us don’t know it’s named after his dad — we just assumed it’s named after coach Belichick,” Cardona said.
Cardona said it was surreal to get the call in the fifth round that he was being picked.
He will prepare for rookie minicamp and learn what’s next not long after that. One option, requested by Cardona last fall, was to be assigned to the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, R.I.
“I went there for a year and kind of fell in love with the New England area, and hopefully I can go up there and help out with our football program for a little bit up there,” Cardona said. “After that, like I said, my orders haven’t been official yet, haven’t come in yet, so just waiting on that as well.”
He said some of his classmates have received their orders, but Cardona expects to be in the group learning his destiny in the coming days.
“Hopefully soon. I’m definitely prepared, or in the process of preparing to step on the field next year,” he said. “Ultimately, like I said, the decision is out of my hands, so hopefully soon. I’m just excited that I’m a member of the New England Patriots right now and that I’m going to be graduating from the Naval Academy here in a couple of weeks.”