American Patriot Wins Super Bowl, Instead of Taking a Knee…He Joins the 101st Airborne

Jake Bequette patriots NFL soldier

The New England Patriots are the most successful organization in the NFL, but even they can’t win them all — on the field and off it. One example of that is the draft, where Bill Belichick and company had some considerable success over the last two decades but their fair share of misses as well. One player falling into that second category is former defensive lineman Jake Bequette, who was selected in the third round in 2012.

Patriot gave up football career to serve his country

Originally acquired by the Patriots with the 90th overall pick, Bequette’s stint with the organization was a short and unsuccessful one. The Arkansas product appeared in only eight games between 2012 and 2014, and was on the field for a mere 43 defensive snaps while not registering any statistics. Even a move to tight end could not salvage his career, and New England ultimately moved on from him during 2015’s roster cutdowns.

But while Bequette’s time in pro football was over quickly and a disappointing one, he has found plenty of success — and happiness — in his new career: the now 30-year-old first enrolled in law school at Georgetown University, before being healthy enough to enlist in the U.S. Army in August 2017. Two years later, in September of this year, Bequette got home from a five-month tour in Iraq as a 1st Lieutenant in the 101st Airborne Division.

“I’ve always admired people who have served in the military,” Bequette told The Athletic’s Jeff Howe. “I’ve always been a student of history. I didn’t want to look back on my life and not have military service as part of it. It was kind of now or never as far as active service. I’m very glad with the way things worked out. I feel very blessed to have been able to have a great football career, then also be out, be young enough and be healthy enough to have an Army career.”

Former NFL star deploys to Iraq with the United States Army

“It’s been quite a journey since then. As far as my personal goals, it’s truly an honor to be here and serving with the 101st. I’m trying to take it one day at a time as coach Bill Belichick would say. I want to do my job,” Bequette continued when talking about his service and how he joined the Army after his NFL playing days came to an end. “Deciding to join the Army has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I’m happy to be here and doing this.”

The ex-Patriot is, of course, not the only person with ties to the organization who also has a relationship or career with the military. Long snapper Joe Cardona, for example, is serving as a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve while simultaneously playing pro football. And even though the two shared just one offseason together, Bequette and Cardona still remain in touch to this day — connected through their service and their time in New England.

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