As a Naval officer and a professional football player, it is not often that Joe Cardona's worlds converge like they did on June 6. He is often the first to shake hands with service members attending games or training camp practices. He has performed reenlistment ceremonies and visited local bases, but this time, it was a moment of personal and professional growth in his Navy uniform that he shared with his teammates.
Before the final day of Patriots minicamp, Joe was promoted to lieutenant in the Navy. The ceremony was held in front of his Patriots teammates on the day the team would receive their Super Bowl LIII rings.
"It was an incredible honor to share that experience with my teammates because really I’m here with these guys every single day, working really hard," Joe said. "They’re seeing my growth and development as a person, as a player, but it’s not often they get to see my growth and development as an officer .... It’s awesome to see that as my personal development as an officer continues to attain a new rank to really start putting in the rank that that really holds. That’s what I’m excited for."
The day also holds significance as the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and that fact was not lost on Joe, his teammates or Coach Bill Belichick, whose father coached at the Naval Academy for more than 30 years.
"Congratulations to Lieutenant Joe Cardona on his promotion," Coach Belichick said to media after practice. "Obviously a day to remember our World War II veterans here on D-Day. It’s the 75th anniversary, that’s kind of a big one for us."
Tom Brady, in his media availability after practice, said seeing the ceremony was a special moment. Seeing a teammate ascend the ranks of the Navy, while balancing life in the NFL, is inspiring.
"It’s pretty emotional, you know? You see someone who takes the oath like that and raises his hand, and it’s a big commitment Joe’s made. I think Joe does it very proudly and he does a great job educating a lot of us on what it means to him. I think we all appreciate that. So, we see the work that he does here for us, but also the work that he does for our country," Tom said. "I’ve talked to Joe a lot over the years about what his roles and responsibility are and I think everyone’s proud of his accomplishments. As proud as you are to win a Super Bowl ring, to advance in that part of his career is pretty amazing. So, to do both is really a great thing for him personally and nice to be able to celebrate and congratulate with him."
The promotion to lieutenant is an honor and a result of hard work since his graduation from the Naval Academy in 2015. Joe said he knows it's rare for civilians to see this kind of moment, and he was glad his teammates could witness his promotion and that they understood its significance.
"It’s not often a large group of civilians, a professional football, really gets to experience a genuine military ceremony and get to take part in it," Joe said. "For me, it’s just special to get to share it with my brothers in the field. I hope that it was as special for them as it was for me."