BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick just wouldn’t be Bill Belichick if he didn’t throw a curveball on draft day. That surprise came on Saturday in the fifth round, when Belichick drafted long snapper Joe Cardona out of Navy.
Cardona was, as you might expect, very excited when he spoke with the New England media shortly after being drafted.READ MORE: 2 Extricated From Car After Crash In Medford
Question: What are your thoughts on being drafted by the Patriots? Did this seem like a team that was almost destined to draft you?
Cardona: It’s a tremendous honor and really a dream come true. I know that sounds cheesy, but I always grew up watching the Patriots because they’ve been so good forever. Like I said, it’s just a tremendous honor, and I’m really happy and really grateful that Coach Belichick is taking a chance on me and giving me an opportunity to come out and play.
Question: Can you give us the best update on your status with your service for the Navy and your ability to play in the NFL?
Cardona: The decision is out of my hands. Right now I’m prepared to be the best football player I can be for the New England Patriots and the best naval officer I can be. Whatever duty I’m doing at the time I’m doing it, I’m just prepared to do my best.
Question: Did your team have any contact with coach Belichick prior to the draft?
Cardona: Never as a group or anything like that. I’ve known his history through just being there at the facilities there at Navy. The Belichick Library – a lot of us don’t know it’s named after his dad – we just assumed it’s named after coach Belichick. That’s right upstairs. I hung out up there as a freshman a lot. We knew his history, but he never really came down and talked to us or anything like that.
Question: Do you have a timeframe as for when you will find if you’ll be able to play next year?
Cardona: I’m not sure, hopefully soon. I’m definitely prepared, or in the process of preparing to step on the field next year. Ultimately, like I said, the decision is out of my hands, so hopefully soon. I’m just excited that I’m a member of the New England Patriots right now and that I’m going to be graduating from the Naval Academy here in a couple of weeks.
Question: We usually don’t see too many long snappers taken in the fifth round. Were you surprised to get the call in that regard?
Cardona: I think just the nature of the position you don’t see many guys drafted. I mean I heard rumors and my agent saying that I have a chance of getting drafted, and then when the call came in the fifth round it was just surreal. That’s the only way I can put it – it was surreal. Like I said, I’m just grateful for the opportunity.
Question: Did you have a feeling that there were a number of teams interested?
Cardona: I think based off of just the nature of the position, there are only a few teams that have needs for snappers, so there were only a few teams that could have potentially signed me. I was just – sorry, everything is still sinking in – I had some contact with some other teams, but ultimately I think based off my contact with [special teams] coach [Joe] Judge, I knew that the Patriots were hopefully going to be my home come this fall.
Question: When would you and the other graduating seniors get your orders for where you’d be sent next?
Cardona: For the majority of the class, we’re just getting our orders. People have had an idea of where they’re going to be sent, but some people are just getting their orders now, and I’m among that group I guess.
Question: Do you have an idea of what your orders would be?READ MORE: Candlelight Vigil Held In Memory Of 5-Year-Old Elijah Lewis; Autopsy Confirms ID
Cardona: I really don’t. They’re just in the process of placing me recently, so I haven’t gotten any official orders yet.
Question: Are you allowed to put in a request for what you’d like to do and where you’d like to go?
Cardona: Yeah, there are some different things – there’s service selection and just some different things. One thing that I was going to try to do was go back to the Naval Academy prep school, which is in Newport, R.I. I went there for a year and kind of fell in love with the New England area, and hopefully I can go up there and help out with our football program for a little bit up there. After that, like I said, my orders haven’t been official yet, haven’t come in yet, so just waiting on that as well.
Question: Are you allowed to put in for more than one request?
Cardona: Yeah, when you service select with the branch you want to go, that’s when you choose if you want to be a pilot or a service worker officer, or something like that in the pipeline of the Navy. That’s back in like September.
Question: And Newport was your first choice?
Cardona: Yeah, just getting the opportunity to help out with the team for a little bit. That’s kind of a special deal for a temporary duty time.
Question: How did you learn to long snap? Were you taught by your father?
Cardona: Yes, sir. I was taught by my dad growing up in Pee Wee football and all that. He always had me doing it along with playing other positions. A big part of it, the joke is that he didn’t think I’d see the field in high school because I was a skinny seventh and eighth grader, so we focused on it. I’m really blessed where it’s taken me.
Question: So how long have you been snapping for?
Cardona: As long as I’ve been playing football, so probably since like six or seven. I’ve always done it in addition to playing other positions.
Question: What other positions did you play in high school?
Cardona: I played linebacker and center.
Question: You were also a lacrosse player in high school. What was your background in lacrosse? Did anything come up about lacrosse in your talks with Bill Belichick?
Cardona: I played four years in high school. Growing up in southern California, it’s a big baseball hotbed, but once I got to high school I was kind of burnt out on baseball and I wanted to try something new. I started playing lacrosse and loved it. It’s something that I was considering doing in college. Obviously, I’m grateful for choosing the football path here at Navy. Nothing has really come up as far as that goes talking with coach Belichick.MORE NEWS: Keller @ Large: Boston Mayoral Race Enters Final Stretch
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