New Orleans Saints defensive end
By Cass Lapeyre
Six games into year 13 in the National Football League, Saints defensive end Cam Jordan shows no signs of slowing down on or off the field. New Orleans' first round selection (24th overall) in the 2011 NFL draft out of the University of California continues to be an integral part of the Black and Gold's elite defensive unit after signing a two-year contract extension in August.
"I've been truly honored and blessed to enter a market like New Orleans, to enter everything that you think you want as a football player, coming up as a man, coming up as a kid with dreams of playing in the NFL," he said.
Spending his entire playing career in New Orleans has been a "blessing" for Jordan, never having to move while being able to establish a routine, not only on the field where he has missed just two games, but also in his community, where he also takes every opportunity to make a significant impact. He often spends his Monday and Tuesday mornings paying visits to youth at different schools around the city. Whether it be reading books, participating in gym class games, or providing words of wisdom to students in the classroom, Jordan is happy to help local youth.
While he's well known on the field for his franchise-record 116.5 sacks (game program went to press prior to the Saints' October 15 contest at Houston), off the field, Jordan has been nominated twice for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award, first in 2017, and again in 2021 for his Hurricane Ida relief efforts and his participation in getting a program off the ground called Crescent City Corps.
Following the storm that devastated parts of the Gulf Coast, he pledged $40,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank to produce 10,000 meals, $50,000 to United Way of Southeastern Louisiana, and $10,000 to Giving Hope for a total of $100,000. He also pledged a donation of $1,000 for every Saints sack made during the 2021 season (46) to local non-profits for Ida Relief.
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 in order to work alongside citizens to build a more just, safe, and inclusive city.
"It’s easy to give back and love a city that’s adopted me" Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan
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 and active participation with officers, the second round of participants engaged in 80 hours of intensive training and community conversations at Loyola University New Orleans. Jordan spent time with officers, participating in several training sessions to observe and learn, allowing him to be a part of the process and engage in meaningful conversations. A graduation ceremony took place in October, 2021, where Jordan attended and congratulated participants, continuing to pledge support of them as they bring enhanced skills into their careers to better serve the community. These experiences thanks to Jordan's support have helped officers and citizens begin a collaborative conversation to re-imagine what community safety might look like in their city and the nation. To continue bringing 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, educating viewers and bringing them behind the scenes of an important project.
"It's easy to give back and love a city that's adopted me," he said.
Between the lines, he has been just as impactful for the Saints defense over the years. Since being selected 24th overall in 2011 out of the University of California, Cam Jordan has been among the league's best defensive lineman. He has amassed 116.5 sacks, 654 tackles, 150 stops for loss, 15 forced fumbles, and 11 fumble recoveries throughout his career. His disruption of opposing offenses has contributed to eight Pro-Bowls (2013, 2015, 2017-22) and three All-Pro selections (2017-19). On January 1, 2023, his three-takedown performance against Philadelphia made him the franchise's all-time leader in sacks, passing Saints legend Rickey Jackson. Jordan ranks second among active players in sacks behind Buffalo's Von Miller and has not fallen off over the years, as he sits fourth in takedowns and third in tackles for loss in the NFL since 2017.
In a game that requires so much physical demand, one of Jordan's most impressive characteristics is his availability. The nine-time defensive Captain of Head Coach Dennis Allen and Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods' unit has played 198 of a possible 200 regular season games in his career with New Orleans, including 172 straight contests from when he was drafted up until December 12, 2021 – a streak that was snapped due to Covid-19 protocols. Tonight, Jordan will be playing in his 210th career game (regular season/postseason combined) for the Saints, ranking second in franchise history in games played behind his former teammate, Drew Brees.
When asked what the key was to aging gracefully and maintaining performance in a physical sport over the years, Jordan said simply, "pre hab." He noted that when he first came into the league and even through his first few seasons, recovery was not a big focus, while technology and treatment were not as advanced as they are today. Now, making sure he gets his "body work" in is essential to his continued excellence on the field – seeing a chiropractor, getting massages, postgame treatment, and eating right leading up to gameday. The standout defensive end pays close attention to his diet, getting bloodwork and food sensitivity testing to make sure he is cutting out anything his body doesn't react well to. For instance, if it means cutting out wheat and turning to sweet potato or squash noodles rather than regular pasta, he's all for it.
Tonight, New Orleans will play their second prime time game of 2023 and their first of two matchups on Thursday Night Football this season. Jordan is no stranger to the bright lights, as his 35.5 career sacks in evening contests rank third in league history. And while many players and coaches around the league stress how difficult of a turnaround Thursday Night contests are with a short week of preparation and limited recovery time, Jordan has elevated his game to an even higher level under such conditions. The nine-time Pro Bowler leads NFL record books in both sacks (16.5) and tackles for loss (20) on Thursday Night Football, including a career-high four sack performance against Atlanta on Thanksgiving Night in 2019. He will try to extend his lead amongst Thursdays' best performers and wreak havoc tonight against a Jacksonville Jaguars offense led by former Number One overall pick, QB Trevor Lawrence, and Superbowl LII Champion head coach, Doug Pederson, who has turned around his current team quickly.