Cardona focused on Navy commitment after rookie campaign

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Cardona focused on Navy commitment after rookie campaign

FOXBORO -- Joe Cardona cleaned out his locker at Gillette Stadium on Monday, the top of his blue Navy working uniform hanging in his stall, and he thought about what was ahead. 

After finishing his rookie season, the Patriots long-snapper will head to Newport, Rhode Island to work full-time at the Naval Preparatory Academy, where he spent his days off during the season, helping to mentor students there.

Later, he'll make his way down to Norfolk, Virginia where he'll spend about two months and participate in Navy's Basic Division Officer Course, or "BDOC," which is required before he can report to his ship as a Surface Warfare Officer. From there, he'll travel to Bath, Maine, to work on the USS Zumwalt. 

"I'll get to work there and figure out a schedule that doesn't interfere with either of my jobs," Cardona said, "and hopefully be back on the field next year."

Since being drafted by the Patriots in the fifth round, Cardona has maintained that his job as an active member of the Navy is his his top priority. He knows that whether or not he's able to pursue his NFL career rests in the hands of those up the chain of command, and he's thankful for the support he's received from both the Navy and the Patriots as he's fulfilled his duties for both jobs.

Cardona said that the sailors and Marines he has worked with closely have been especially supportive throughout his first NFL season, and he's looking forward to seeing them more now that the season is over.

"They'll be mostly proud," he said. "They've been excited for me all year. You have all these people who are probably fans of other teams from all over the country, and I think they all converted to New England fans with me down there. They'll be proud, and they've been supportive all year. It's something I'll look forward to, getting down there."

Given his commitment to the Navy, there remains the possibility that Cardona could be kept away from the field next season, but for now he'll look toward improving himself for the 2016 campaign while focusing on his service to the country. 

"There's always room for improvement," Cardona said. "As a specialist, your main goal is perfection in your job and your duty. There's always room for improvement in that."

Jerry Jones, Cowboys kneel before national anthem against Cardinals

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Jerry Jones, Cowboys kneel before national anthem against Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, so the speculation was that he would not allow his players to kneel during the national anthem.

The Cowboys and their owner did kneel, though not during the anthem.

Following a weekend of kneeling and protesting across the NFL, the Cowboys and their owner displayed their own version of unity Monday night, kneeling on the field before rising as a group before the playing of the national anthem.

The Cowboys went into the locker room and returned to the field for the anthem, lining up between the sideline and the yard markers on the field.

Arm-in-arm, they dropped to a knee as a giant flag was carried onto the field, with Jones and his family in the middle near the 50-yard line.

Numerous boos rang out across University of Phoenix Stadium as the Cowboys kneeled and continued as the players rose, still arm-in-arm, and stepped back to the sideline as the flag was unfurled across the field. They remained connected as Jordin Sparks sang the national anthem.

The Arizona Cardinals had their own symbol of unity after a weekend of protests in the NFL, gathering along the goal line arm-in-arm during the national anthem. They were joined by owner Michael Bidwell, his family and general manager Steve Keim.

More than 200 NFL players kneeled, sat or prayed during the national anthem on Sunday after President Trump said any player who does not stand for the national anthem should be fired.

Three teams did not take the field for the national anthem and numerous NFL owners came out against Trump's statements.

EX-PATS PODCAST: Brown and Koppen in-depth conversation on national anthem protest

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EX-PATS PODCAST: Brown and Koppen in-depth conversation on national anthem protest

Former Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown joins Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen in this week’s episode of “The Ex-Pats Podcast” to discuss the protests from around the league and Donald Trump’s comments on Friday night. Troy spoke critically of the President on CSN’s Postgame Live show on Sunday, and the two former players react to what former teammate Matt Light said Monday morning on Toucher & Rich.

Also, the guys talk about the thrilling win for the Patriots against Houston, including whether Brandin Cooks has found his way into Tom Brady’s “trust tree” (24:40), Rob Gronkowski playing a monster role in the passing AND blocking game against Houston (29:00), and how concerning the defense has looked in the first three weeks of the season (32:30).