You can say that the NFL's Joe Cardona is a patriot in more ways than one.
In addition to being the long snapper for the New England Patriots, the 24-year-old also serves in the U.S. military. And Cardona might have to miss the entire 2016 season to fulfill his duties for his country.
As a guest on today's The Dan Patrick Show, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus addressed military members playing the NFL and spoke about Cardona's situation.
"He played last year for the Patriots while he was on active duty because he was able to work them both out," Mabus said, according to The Boston Globe. "He's been assigned to a ship and he's going to report to that ship, so he may have to leave the Patriots for the year to go fulfill that role."
After being drafted by New England in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Cardona was granted a one-year deferment from his service commitment by working one day per week at a naval academy in Rhode Island. But this year, he might have to miss the entire season because of his commitment to the Navy.
"Right now we do have a process," Mabus added. "And it hasn't got up to me yet to do it. But there are a lot of paths to play and to serve.
Mabus attended a Patriots game last October to see Cardona play and he visited with him in the locker room after the game.
New England anticipated Cardona's possible 2016 absence by signing former Browns long snapper Christian Yount.
The NFL has a long history of having players who also served in the military, including classic players such as Sid Luckman and players more recently such as Pat Tillman.