New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan has been named the club's 2021 Man of the Year, making him the club nominee for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide. It is the second time that he has been selected by the team with this honor, first receiving it in 2017. The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide is given annually by the NFL honoring a player's volunteer and charity work as well as his excellence on the field. Team nominees for all 32 clubs have been announced.
"Cameron's service has been driven by love for this community since he first joined the Saints family ten years ago," said Owner Gayle Benson. "He has a love for this community that rubs off in all of his initiatives. He is fully committed to all that he does – both on and off the field. He is a longtime team leader, devoted husband and father, and selfless servant to our community."
"I've always been passionate about community service, because as a kid I saw first hand the off the field impact and platform my father had having played in the National Football League," Jordan said. "I understand the impact we as NFL players can have on our youth, underserved communities and just taking advantage of the opportunities to make the world a better place. It means the world to me that I may uplift someone with my time, resources, or encouragement. I am blessed to have the ability to give back to this community that has welcomed me with open arms since being drafted ten years ago."
Jordan has been a cornerstone both on and off the field for the Saints since being selected by New Orleans with the 24th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of the University of California. On the field, he's been voted as a team captain the last seven seasons, has played in all 172 career games with 171 starts, with his games played streak the longest running for a position player. In eleven seasons, he has posted 645 tackles (403 solo), 98.5 sacks, second in club record books, two interceptions, 56 passes defensed, 12 forced fumbles and ten fumble recoveries. In 2021, Jordan leads the Saints defensive line with 40 tackles (22 solo), is tied for second on the team with four sacks and had added four passes defensed and one forced fumbles as the only member of the line to open all 16 contests. Jordan has been selected to six Pro Bowls, the most by a Saints defensive lineman, three Associated Press All-Pro honors and was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors 2010's All-Decade team.
Off the field, Jordan has been respected both regionally and nationally for his community service, centered on education, physical fitness and social justice causes, also actively supporting the foundation and charitable activities of teammates as well as expanding the reach of his and his wife Nikki's God Iz Love Foundation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jordan continued to remain engaged in activities with youth, often through virtual mechanisms, resuming in-person initiatives in 2021. However, looking at regional and national events, Jordan further expanded the reach of his commitment to New Orleans and the Gulf South.
In 2021, Jordan focused his community efforts on a groundbreaking partnership with local law enforcement and providing relief to those in need affected by Hurricane Ida.
Late in 2020, Jordan established a community partnership that would take place throughout 2021 with Crescent City Corps, a New Orleans-based nonprofit that equips police officers with leadership development, racial equity and community engagement training so they can work alongside citizens to build a more just, safe, and inclusive city.
Jordan became aware and heavily involved in support of Crescent City Corps following discussions with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. Crescent City Corps began its Anti-Racism and Community Engagement Training Program for New Orleans police officers in 2019. While the program was put on hold due to COVID-19, Jordan announced his partnership with the organization in December, 2020, with his God Iz Love Foundation donating $120,000 to fund the expansion of the program into its current second class and commitment to educating 80 New Orleans Police Department officers to bridge the gap between the community and the police.
For several months thanks to Jordan's financial support, as well as his active participation spent with officers, the second round of participants engaged in 80 hours of intensive training and community conversations at Loyola University New Orleans, exploring topics like leadership, racial equity, and trauma-informed policing to help the New Orleans Police Department better understand what citizens want from law enforcement. Jordan spent time with the officers who participated and attended several training sessions in order to observe and learn, to allow him to be a part of the process and engage in meaningful conversations surrounding the training. A graduation ceremony took place in October, where Jordan attended and congratulated participants, continuing to pledge support of them as they bring their enhanced skills into their careers and the community they serve. The hope of Jordan and the NOPD are that these experiences will help officers and citizens begin a collaborative conversation to re-imagine what community safety might look like in their city and the nation.
New Orleans Saints All-Pro defensive end
Cam Jordan and his non-profit God Iz Love Foundation
New Orleans Mayor, LaToya Cantrell
Superintendent of Police, Shaun Ferguson
Crescent City Corps, Executive Director Brent Godfrey
To work to continue to bring attention to this important initiative, Jordan served as an executive producer of a four-part docuseries chronicling the Crescent City Corps training process, results and Jordan's engagement that was nationally televised on the NFL Network this fall, educating viewers and bringing them behind the scenes on an important project that documents how it first took root a year ago and promises to produce dividends in police-resident relations locally and eventually nationally.
As Hurricane Ida hit the Gulf Coast in August, despite the team being forced to be evacuated for a month to start the season, Jordan immediately stepped up to pledge a $40,000 dollar donation to Second Harvest Food Bank that helped produce 10,000 meals, a $50,000 donation to the United Way of Southeastern Louisiana and a $10,000 donation to Giving Hope for a total of $100,000. Jordan has also pledged a donation of $1,000 for every sack he or a teammate makes in 2021 to local nonprofits for Ida relief including the Greater New Orleans Foundation.
As a nominee, Jordan will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
For the fourth year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LVI. The 2021 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air the Thursday before Super Bowl LVI, on ABC.
All 32 nominees will receive up to a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's seventh annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name or Twitter handle. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 7 and Jan. 17 will receive a $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.