(CBS Local)-- Joe Cardona has spent his whole career with the New England Patriots and he's one of the only long snappers to ever be drafted in NFL history. The 2x Super Bowl champion and graduate of The Naval Academy is one of the longest tenured members of the Pats and he is excited for Gillette Stadium to return to full capacity this coming season.
"We saw a huge mobilization throughout our country to fight this pandemic and get us back to normal," said Cardona in an interview with CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith. "It's good to see some normalcy. We've returned to the building and with guys that are fully vaccinated, it's basically normal football. It's great and knowing that stadiums are going to be full again... we definitely missed the fans. As OTAs return, there is a different energy around the building."
While Cardona is a professional football player, he is also a Lieutenant in the US Naval Reserves. Memorial Day is always an important day on the calendar for the graduate of the Naval Academy and that's why he has teamed up with the folks at USAA to pay his respects to those who have served. Cardona's experience at the Naval Academy helped prepare him for his career in the NFL.
"It's a busy time of year and summer is getting kicked off. Memorial Day is an example of no matter how busy you are, it's good to take a step back and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice," said Cardona. "It's an opportunity to reflect on anybody in your life. I'm the son of a Navy guy and my dad had the foresight to work on different things with me. I would always show up 20 minutes early to practice. One of those things was long snapping and I got told this was opportunity to get your college paid for and that led me to the Naval Academy, which was my dream school. I never thought I'd be playing in the NFL."
The Pats long snapper has played in over 90 career games and signed a four-year contract extension with New England in 2018. One of the great joys of Cardona's career has been playing for head coach Bill Belichick.
"Our team has two pillars that are described when you first show up. Be a championship level football team and we've done a really great job with that and the other is to be a pillar in the community," said Cardona. "They've really taken that role in the community as a responsibility and I'm really proud to have been part of that in multiple facets. My connection to the military and military families has been a great point of pride for me."
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