Cardona will take a stand
Patriots long snapper will remain at attention for anthem
FOXBORO – It shouldn’t come as a shock that Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona proudly stands by what his fellow service academy alum did last Sunday in Chicago.
Cardona is a Navy product while Alejandro Villanueva, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle who separated himself from his teammates by standing in the tunnel by his lonesome as the national anthem played, attended U.S. Military Academy and has served three tours of duty in Afghanistan.
In the wake of polarizing comments made by President Donald Trump about NFL players using the “Star Spangled Banner” as a platform to stage protests, Villanueva chose to honor his country rather than respect the wishes of his head coach. Cardona found nothing wrong with
It’s national and means something to a lot of Americans. At the same time, our friends need to have their voices heard.”
– Joe Cardona
what Villanueva did as far as breaking rank from the Steelers.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a person and a player,” Cardona said in a 1-on-1 interview inside the New England on Thursday. “I think anybody who does what they feel is right has that right in America. That’s the beauty of this country.”
“My only wish is that we took the politicalization out of the national anthem. It’s not something that’s political. It’s national and means something to a lot of Americans,” added the third-year Patriot. “At the same time, our friends need to have their voices heard.”
The turmoil surrounding the sport could reach critical mass and Cardona would still pause, put his hand over his heart, and listen as the national anthem echoed throughout the stadium.
“It’s their choice, but it’s plain and simple for me. I’m a service member so I stand in the position of attention and will continue to do so just like I always have each and every game I’ve ever played in,” Cardona said. “That’s always a special moment for me and a special moment for a lot of people, but it’s good to be getting back to football and focusing on Sunday’s game.”
The 25-year-old Cardona is still an active member of the military. During training camp, he had the honor of swearing in two Navy veterans who were re-enlisting. The ceremony occurred after a joint practice between the Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars and was witnessed by players and coaches from both sides.
“That was a huge moment. Swearing in any service member is a great moment. As special as it was for me, it’s really about the members I was swearing in and give them that experience,” Cardona said. “To see the admiration from my teammates and the Jaguars during that time, that was a great thing for them to see that their services are appreciated very much by members of the NFL.
“Any time someone asks you to swear them in or re-enlist them, you’re taking part in their story that they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives,” Cardona delved further. “Personally, it’s something I take a lot of pride in.”
Reports this week indicate that the Patriots plan to stand for the national anthem prior to Sunday’s home game against the Carolina Panthers. Many stood and interlocked their arms during the anthem last Sunday before the game against the Houston Texans, while a large portion took a knee.
On a professional level, Cardona is focusing on his job of providing Patriots place kicker Stephen Gostkowski and punter Ryan Allen with good snaps.
The tumult that’s hovered over the NFL in the last week has created storylines that have absolutely nothing to do with the action on the field. As the valuable special teams contributor noted, the Patriots per usual have run damage control whenever the outside noise gets just a little too loud.
“We’re focusing on football here. Ultimately, it is what it was,” Cardona said. “We’re going to move on as a team and together towards playing Carolina and getting back to playing football.”
Patriots long snapper and Navy graduate Joe Cardona said he understands why players are protesting, but he said he will always stand at attention for the national anthem.
Joe Cardona (49) praised Steelers offensive lineman and Army graduate Alejandro Villanueva for standing for the anthem last week while the rest of his teammates were in the locker room.