Patriots’ Joe Cardona pleased with military deferral update – Reuters Sports News

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Thoughts and quick notes on the New England Patriots and the NFL:

1. The provision of the bill hits the mark: Joe Cardona has been at the forefront of the Patriots-Army bond for the past eight seasons.

The long snapper graduated from the Naval Academy and was able to defer military service to pursue his career in the NFL. He regularly spoke to members of the organization about his dual status, doing everything from leading a reenlistment ceremony on the training ground to being promoted to lieutenant in front of his teammates and the fact that the owner Robert Kraft lists him as the team’s Salute to Service nominee this year. .

So when a congressional bill passed last week that won’t allow others to have the same opportunity as Cardona, it resonated with him.

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

“It showed me adversity on the biggest sporting stage in the world. It gave me the tools to lead groups of individuals who are all struggling with so many factors, whether it’s problems family, things going on at home, financial instability. Obviously, making an NFL roster and the instability that goes with it, those are all things that have honed my leadership skills and made me a better leader for that.

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

But politicians were quick to add new language that will provide an exception for Carter and others in his situation, clarifying that any cadet or midshipman who first enrolled at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy or U.S. Air Force Academy prior to June 1, 2021, will now be eligible for the NFL Draft and may defer military service.

“It’s hard for it to make the headlines every few years. It really affects the athlete’s life a lot, when on top of that you train intensely, you have intense military obligations, and the academic rigor of one more military academy. It’s not an easy thing,” Cardona said.

“I felt terrible for Andre because I went through it myself. Getting a Senior Bowl invite was a great opportunity, and the next thing you know is, ‘Why is he doing this?’ Andre is an amazing talent, a once in a generation service academy player can’t wait to see him play on Sundays now that he’s been protected by what he really signed up for when he confirmed his commitment to service. I think the policy as it was was really good.

Some Army veterans and supporters who were not sympathetic to politics noted that officers who pursued athletic careers were not held to the same commitment as their peers.

Cardona, however, said he believed there were general benefits for everyone involved.

“For the military, the service academies, and for football and the athlete, it was a policy where service was deferred. All of that means it’s put on hold while I have that opportunity, and a Once I’m done, it’s time to get back to my job and start my five-year active duty obligation,” he explained.

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

Cardona found the connection between the powerful two.

“Apart from 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 times when I get to share this world with my fellow men and women. service,” he said.

“I think of times when a kid is with their parent who’s in the Navy, and I can tell that kid – while I’m in football gear – that I’m working with their mom and dad and seeing their face is ‘illuminate . That resonates with me. Then when I’m overseas and on base, and I talk to other military people, I talk to them about everything that’s going on in the Patriots building that makes us the team that we are.

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

2. The Cardona Sequence: After missing his first NFL game after playing 140 consecutive games, Cardona said that type of run involves a lot of things, including luck. He then added: “The streak is secondary to the feeling of not being able to be there with the guys.”

3. Blues red zone: One of the reasons the Patriots entered Saturday as the NFL’s lowest-ranked 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. Stay together: While the Patriots’ season didn’t go the way many had hoped, longtime captain Devin McCourty didn’t see 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 that people write. If I was a fan, I’d like to read this stuff too – it’s like peeking inside the locker room – and whether it’s true or not doesn’t really matter. But I don’t think we have the type of guy, character-wise, to turn around and say, ‘It’s his fault.’ “

5. The LB surprise: After failing to select an off-the-ball linebacker in the 2022 draft, the Patriots appeared to be rolling the dice in a season where they lost Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy & Co. But in one of the most notable surprises of the season, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jahlani Tavai and Raekwon McMillan exceeded expectations. Bentley, which finished with 11 tackles on Saturday, easily leads the team in double-digit tackles. “We just don’t talk to them the way they should, 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 spring non-football injury list with a torn hamstrings. Coach Bill Belichick showed no commitment when asked if Stueber could make his way into the game this season, which seems like a long shot. Stueber’s teammates were thrilled to see him. “I know he’s happy to be back out there and doing what he loves – it’s huge for him to get some rehearsal and trying to remember how to do this thing,” the center said. starting David Andrews.

7. Future OT: At least the Patriots can take a closer look at Stueber and determine the likelihood of him being an important part of their plans. With Isaiah Wynn and Yodny Cadresse 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 a legitimate gripe with having only one Pro Bowler (Judon), but rookie returner 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 had a better season than the Jets’ Braxton Berrios (11.9 punt return yards; 22.6 kickoff yards without touchdowns).

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

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

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