NFL Salute to Service |


Salute to Service Award


Dennis Gardeck (Linebacker)

Dennis Gardeck grew up in the Chicago area and earned all-conference honors as a defenseman in lacrosse in addition to playing for the football team. He went on to star at West Virginia State before transferring to Sioux Falls as a graduate transfer in 2017. As a senior, he was named to five Division II All-America teams, selected as a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award (Small College Defensive Player of the Year) and earned first-team All-NSIC and NSIC Defensive Newcomer of the Year honors. Since joining the Arizona Cardinals as an un-drafted rookie free agent in 2018, Gradeck has played 22 games and totaled 14 special teams tackles. During his time in Arizona, linebacker Dennis Gardeck has rarely missed an opportunity to participate in community service events such as school trips, kids camps and hospital visits. One cause particularly important to him, however, is giving back to military veterans, an initiative the second-year Cardinal supports with the same passion he brings to the field. "I see a lot of similarities between football and the service – the camaraderie, intensity and brotherhood" Gardeck said. "We have the freedom to play a game we love because of the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who have served, and it's important to show our veterans that we care about them and appreciate all they've done."

Gardeck recently participated in "Operation Sleep," a military appreciation event hosted by Cardinals Charities and Brooklyn Bedding at MANA (Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force) House in Phoenix. He and team representatives delivered 76 beds to the residents of MANA House, which is a peer-support organization that helps rebuild the lives of military veterans affected by homelessness. "When the Cardinals come in, the attitude of the men really just changes," said Wendy Owens, Charities Manager at MANA House. "Their eyes just light up. It brings out a softer side of them." Gardeck will return to MANA House during the Cardinals bye week in late November to spend time with the residents during a canvas painting event. While staying at MANA House, veterans build savings with the goal of moving out on their own, and the paintings they create with Gardeck will help furnish their new home.