Super Bowl LVIII - Thursday notebook

Kyle Shanahan peeved over practice facilities at UNLV; Cardona recognized by NFL and USAA

At the San Francisco 49ers practice facility, Head Coach Kyle Shanahan voiced his displeasure over the horrendous practice facilities at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. As the visiting team, they get the short end of the stick.
At the San Francisco 49ers practice facility, Head Coach Kyle Shanahan voiced his displeasure over the horrendous practice facilities at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. As the visiting team, they get the short end of the stick. / Chris Unger/GettyImages
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As the home team, the Kansas City Chiefs get to practice and the Las Vegas Raiders' facilities. They have a professional facility to practice on and have the best of everything.

The San Francisco 49ers, the visiting team, are being treated like the red-haired, freckled step children and are stuck working out at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, a field that has more dirt than grass and where the footing is terrible. Wednesday was the first practice and it was the first opportunity for the 49ers to test out the digs where they would practice leading up to the Super Bowl.

"We're here, we're practicing on it. Everyone has their preferences. Wish things were better, but we will deal with it as it is."

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers head coach

The 49ers will have two more practices there before they take the field at Allegiant Stadium to face the Chiefs. If they win, the field issues go away, however, if anyone gets injured on the practice field, there is going to be a price for someone to pay.

While NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the field was adequate, NFLPA Executive Director Lloyd Howell said that the field "really isn't up to snuff for what our players deserve."

Roger Goodell
Roger Goodell delivers a State of the League Address at the NFL Commissioner Press Conference during Super Bowl week in Las Vegas. / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

"Hopefully we've gotten to a workable condition, but the mere fact that you're asking the question in our biggest event means that it is an issue."

Lloyd Howell, NFLPA Executive DIrector

Goodell made the following statement.

"We've had 23 experts out there. We had the union out there. All of them think it's a very playable surface, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at his Super Bowl news conference on Monday. It's softer than what they practiced on, but that happens. It's well within all of our testing standards. It's something we think all of our experts, as well as neutral field inspectors, have all said unanimously that it's a playable field."

Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

Howell has taken a special interest in playing surfaces since he took office. He surveyed all the players in the league and wanted to know what their concerns actually were.

"The one issue where there was unanimous commentary was at the end of the day, I want to play on the highest quality grass surface."

Lloyd Howell, NFL Commissioner

New England Patriots Long Snapper Joe Cardona Named as Recipient of 13th Annual Salute to Service Award by NFL and USAA

The NFL and USAA, an official NFL Salute to Service Partner, named Joe Cardona, long snapper for the New England Patriots, as the recipient of the 2023 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. The award recognizes the exceptional efforts by members of the NFL family to honor and support the military community, according to a joint press release issued by the NFL and USAA on Wednesday.

Cardona will be recognized at NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air nationally on the CBS Television Network and NFL Network, and stream on Paramount+ and NFL+, tonight, Thursday, Feb. 8 at the Resorts World Theatre in Las Vegas.

USAA, a leading provider of insurance, banking and other financial services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, will contribute $25,000 in Cardona's honor to the official aid societies representing each of the military branches. The NFL Foundation will match USAA's donation of $25,000, which will be donated to Cardona's military charity of choice.

"Joe Cardona represents the epitome of the NFL's Salute to Service Award, said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. His commitment to honoring, empowering, and connecting with the military community as an active service member, while also dedicated to his Patriots teammates, truly sets him apart. He is the true embodiment of what it means to be an American hero. The entire NFL family salutes Joe for his service to our country and congratulates him as the recipient of this important award."

Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

Returning this year, fans helped choose the three finalists, determined by a consensus fan vote, an NFL internal committee and USAA. Nominees were evaluated on the positive effect of their efforts on the military community, the type of service conducted, the thoroughness of their support and level of commitment. This year's other finalists included Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones and San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle.

"Upon his graduation from the Naval Academy, Lieutenant Joe Cardona has continued to serve his country while also playing in the NFL, and we are honored to name him the recipient of this year's Salute to Service Award presented by USAA, said Major General (Ret.) Bob Whittle, USAA Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff. USAA salutes Lieutenant Cardona for his continued service to our country as well as his exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting his fellow service members, veterans, and their families."

Major General (Ret.) Bob Whittle, USAA

Cardona's support extends to organizations like the Travis Manion Foundation, dedicated to empowering veterans and families of fallen heroes and events like the Brothers of Life that brings together Americans and Israeli wounded soldiers. As a service member, Joe has presided over more than a dozen re-enlistment and retirement ceremonies at Gillette Stadium, even donning his own uniform to lead some proceedings. In every aspect of his life, Joe Cardona exemplifies what it means to make a meaningful difference both on and off the field, embodying the values of service, sacrifice, and community.

"It is a tremendous honor to receive the NFL Salute to Service Award. I am thankful to the New England Patriots organization for accommodating my military service and I hope to be a model for future players who wish to serve, said Joe Cardona. I appreciate the partnership between the NFL and our military and the role I have been able to play in it. On the field, I hope to represent the fighting spirit of our veterans, as well as my brothers and sisters in arms whom I serve alongside today. I am proud to be the son of Patrick Cardona, a 24-year Navy veteran, and Margeret Cardona, who embodies the strength and selflessness of a military spouse. I am proud to be an Officer in the United States Navy and player in the NFL; with or without recognition I will continue to do my job."

Joe Cardona