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Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona’s steady career a model for Academy players to follow

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Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona's steady career a model for Academy players to follow

Joe Cardona enjoys two jobs that don’t get enough recognition.

Cardona is a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots as a long snapper. He’s also a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He is part of a select group of Academy football players in the NFL. During Memorial Day weekend, Cardona will partner with USAA to make sure those veterans who lost their lives get the attention they deserve. USAA is leading an effort to offer digital tributes to fallen military members at PoppyInMemory.com.

“It does a tremendous job of making it a resource that highlights those individuals that made that ultimate sacrifice for us,” Cardona told Sporting News. “You can go on and learn about those individuals that have fallen dating back to World War I.” 

MORE: Seven crazy stats from Adam Vinatieri’s long NFL career

Cardona was a fifth-round pick by New England in 2015, and participated in OTAs ahead of his seventh season this week. He was also promoted to lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 2019, and he has maintained that double duty with full support from the Patriots.

Cardona said Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose father Steve was an assistant coach at Navy from 1956 to 1989, is a Midshipmen football fan. They have conversations about Navy football, and Cardona’s duel career throughout the season. 

“The balancing act as a reservist and a NFL player — on the reserve side it’s just like any of my fellow reserve soldiers, shipmates or airmen who have that role,” he said. “I’ve taken a lot of pride in my role as a reservist and ultimately I take a lot of experiences gained in the NFL into the other side with me. 

“It’s been a tremendous resource in making me a better officer,” he said. “As a NFL player, there aren’t many other guys with day jobs outside the league.”

Cardona is one of 13 players from the service academies in the NFL, and Baltimore’s Alejandro Villanueva, whose first season was in 2014, is the only one who has played longer. Military players can get waivers to delay service in the NFL now, and there were five players signed from those academies this season.

Academy football players in NFL 

PLAYER POSITION TEAM SCHOOL FIRST YEAR
Alejandro Villanueva T Ravens Army 2014
Joe Cardona LS Patriots Navy 2015
Garrett Griffin TE Saints Air Force 2016
Brett Toth T Eagles Army 2019
Cole Chistiansen LB Chargers Army 2020
Elijah Riley S Eagles Army 2020
Paul Quessenberry TE Texans Navy 2020
Malcolm Perry WR Dolphins Navy 2020
Nolan Laufenberg G Broncos Air Force 2021
George Silvanic DT Rams Air Force 2021
Parker Ferguson T Jets Air Force 2021
Jon Rhattigan LB Seahawks Army 2021
Cameron Kinley CB Buccaneers Navy 2021

“The hope is that we do things the right way, to represent the Department of Defense, the Navy, our respective branches, and those of us who are still playing so other guys can get the same opportunity,” Cardona said. 

Cardona, who played against former Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry, now with the Dolphins, in 2020, said that the fraternity should continue to grow in future seasons. 

“It’s a small list,” he said. “It’s always great to play against guys that have a similar background and stand for similar values. It’s always been great to play against Army and Air Force guys. The rivalry carries over a little bit, but it is a great experience for all of us.” 

Visit USAA for more information on the tribute to fallen military members at PoppyInMemory.com. “It’s an honor to be involved with USAA in any capacity, but especially to honor those who have fallen and made the ultimate sacrifice. It does mean a lot more, and any moment to reflect upon that is always a good opportunity,” Cardona said.

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Padres’ Manny Machado wore the perfect Father’s Day footwear

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Padres' Manny Machado wore the perfect Father's Day footwear

Manny Machado’s got heat on feet. Kind of.

While ostentatious, loud and colorful cleats are all the rage in baseball, the Padres’ star third baseman dialed it down on Father’s Day. Like, a lot down.

Machado took the field wearing a pair of Nike Air Monarch cleats — the preeminent, iconic dad shoe — during San Diego’s Dad Day matchup vs. the Reds.

The Monarchs have fostered a reputation for being an unforgettable dad-worn sneaker, making Machado’s footwear a tremendous salute to fathers (and grillmasters) around the country.

What makes the cleats even better is that they are in the classic white, silver and navy blue colorway, which is the only way to wear those bad boys. While these are Jordan Brand player-exclusive cleats, they’re dad-exclusive away from the field.

MORE: Joey Votto makes young fan’s day in San Diego

Machado has worn all different makes of cleats throughout his career, usually flashy and gaudy types. The All-Star infielder has worn Jordan 11s, 12s, 4s and a bunch of others on the field.

Still, lacing up a pair of Grillmaster 5s on Father’s Day earned him plenty of praise from fans who understood the tribute:

You’ll probably be able to catch Machado after the game at a BBQ near you, likely cracking some bad puns and calling everyone “big guy.”

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Nets’ Kevin Durant joining Team USA for Tokyo Olympics after Game 7 loss vs. Bucks, report says

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Nets' Kevin Durant joining Team USA for Tokyo Olympics after Game 7 loss vs. Bucks, report says

Kevin Durant isn’t going to be taking much time off this summer.

In fact, he appears to be ready for more action despite playing all 53 minutes of the Nets’ Game 7 overtime loss to the Bucks and scoring a game-high 48 points. And he’s joining another super team that has title hopes.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Durant is expected to commit to Team USA ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Durant would become the sixth player to commit to Team USA, joining another player with Olympic experience, Draymond Green, and four first-time Olympians: Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker.

MORE: Kevin Durant blames ‘big-ass foot’ for loss to the Suns

Durant competed in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. He averaged 19.5 points at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and 19.4 points at the 2012 London Olympics.

In addition, Durant shot 54.6 percent from the shorter-range international 3-point line at the two tournaments and has compiled a 39-0 record in international play.

Team USA can now turn its attention to its remaining question marks with Durant’s commitment reportedly secured. Anthony Davis and LeBron James won’t be participating in this year’s Olympics, but Stephen Curry was “50-50” about competing in the event.

Either way, Team USA should be considered the top threat at the 2021 Summer Games with Durant in the fold.

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Yankees secure win vs. Athletics with another triple play, tie MLB record

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Yankees secure win vs. Athletics with another triple play, tie MLB record

If a double play is a pitcher’s best friend, then what’s a triple play?

The Yankees had already turned two triple plays this season before Sunday, including one that has literally never been seen before in MLB history. Then they pulled off one more, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

With the Yankees teetering on the brink of danger in the ninth inning, closer Aroldis Chapman got A’s catcher Sean Murphy to ground to third baseman Gio Urshela, who stepped on the bag and relayed to DJ LeMahieu, who then threw to Chris Gittens for the 5-4-3 game-ender.

It was a record-tying play by the Yankees: The high-water mark for triple plays turned in a season is three, with the feat most recently accomplished by the White Sox in 2016.

The Yankees’ second triple play of the year — a 1-3-6-2-5-6 triple killing vs. the Blue Jays on June 17 — had never accomplished in baseball history:

The around-the-horn game-ending triple play on Father’s Day secured a 2-1 victory over Oakland and gave New York the series win over a hot A’s team. New York moves to 38-33 and continues to right the ship in an up-and-down season.

But, hey, that’s a pretty cool gift for dads everywhere.

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