There is something about the holiday season that brings out the best in many in our culture. It is a time spent with friends, family, and in the case of professional athletes, teammates and coaches. The season in general brings up the notoriety of acts of kindness, but in the case of New Orleans Saints‘ defensive end Cameron Jordan, he’s been helping the New Orleans community his entire career, and not just when the cameras are on.
Jordan has spent most of his career flying under the radar. Those in NFL circles have known he’s been a terrific player his entire career, but he has taken leaps and bounds over the last couple of seasons. He was also buried by the fact that the Saints struggled on that side of the ball for much of his career.
The last two seasons have been a renaissance for Jordan, which have seen him earn “elite” grades by scouting site Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He graded at a 92.5 in 2016, and so far this season has a 94.5 grade that ranks him only behind Von Miller among all edge defenders. He could set a career high in sacks if he gets one more in their final game, but in 2017 he has 12 sacks, 11 passes defended, one interception and two forced fumbles. He is a major component to the Saints’ rejuvenated defense.
He has also flown under the radar, at least nationally, for his efforts within the New Orleans community. Giving back is something he learned from his father, Steve Jordan, a six-time Pro Bowler himself in the National Football League. Cameron accepted his role as a leader in the community from the get go.
Per The Undefeated:
Giving back comes naturally to the 28-year-old. Since being drafted by the Saints in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, he has participated in at least one but sometimes multiple weekly community events as he has evolved into a defensive starter, captain, Pro Bowler and nationally recognized player.
Whether his participation has been team-related or sponsored by a community partner, a teammate or a fan, he’s remained selfless. For the past four years, Jordan has been the face of the Saints Kids Club. He spends several hours during the summer working with kids who take part in the Saints Community Patrol Summer Camps. He also delivers several motivational speeches to youth and high school students.
The winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which Jordan is the nominee for the Saints and all 32 teams get to select one nominee, receives two Super Bowl tickets to give to fans or community heroes of their choice. Commissioner Roger Goodell has high praise for these players.
“NFL players are outstanding, generous men of character who give back to their communities,” Goodell said in a press release. “Walter Payton represented the very best on and off the field and this year’s Man of the Year nominees exemplify his legacy of philanthropy and leadership. We are proud to support players as they use their platforms to drive positive change.”
The Undefeated got to talk to Cameron Jordan recently and discussed his role in the community.
What inspires you to donate your time and effort on a weekly basis to the community?
“You know, if anything, I give credit to my dad. For as far back as I can remember, he’s always gave back to the surrounding community of Minnesota when he was playing, and Arizona, where we moved to after, where he’s from. He’s made an emphasis in his life just to give back just as much as he’s gotten from life. That’s a lot.
It’s easy to go to the pros and be able to try and give back to the next generation. What’s more motivating is not the fact that I’m doing it because my dad’s doing it, or I’m doing it because there’s some recognition part. If anything, I don’t want any of the recognition for it.
At the end of the day, I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s a thing that can help a kid, will come back to me.
I’m not saying I’m the foundation — just a brick.”
What’s your most meaningful cause to give your time to?
“At this point, it’s almost a ritual to go out to a different school every Tuesday. Whether that be for New Orleans, whether that be New Orleans East, or whether that be the West Bank, you go out to as far as Houma and Boutte. It doesn’t really matter. Just the inclusiveness, the inclusivity of being able to show that there’s an NFL player that cares about these kids.”
How do you balance being such a prolific football player and contributor to the team, and such a wonderful role model and community member?
“I don’t know. That’s a great question because in terms of everything I do, I always want to feel like I can do more. We talk about there’s guys who’ve started a foundation, and as much as I talk about I could start my own foundation, is that also that, if I start my foundation, this is what you sort of have to stick to.
I guess it completely makes my possibilities limitless. … Me and [Saints wide receiver] Mike Thomas are doing this event Friday for the battered women’s shelter, where we’re going to take a whole bunch of families out there. It was basically just coming to each other, like, ‘Hey what can we do?’ This is an event that the Saints have helped people in the past. This is something that we can pick up and make it our own. Just whether that be going to Target and giving out gifts. Whether that be … whatever we can do, whatever we so set our minds to, that’s what we can accomplish.”
You can read the rest of the interview here.
Cameron Jordan is a stud on the football field, but he might have even more of an impact within the New Orleans community.