Saints DE Cameron Jordan claims there is no one on his team more passionate about winning than himself. On a team full of winners and players who have performed at a high level at the most critical times, such as Drew Brees, Demario Davis and Michael Thomas, it’s a bold statement.
He might not be wrong.
The first thing that is evident about Jordan is the energy he brings. That has been evident since the moment he arrived to New Orleans in 2011. How could it go unnoticed?
It is not the kind of energy that he only gets when he puts the pads on and hits the football field. Find Jordan at any given time of the day and that same enthusiasm will be there. In the locker room, in the cafeteria, standing behind the podium talking to media members -- that only scratches the surface.
It’s hard to put into words the type of energy that Jordan brings to his team and even harder to find another player with that same energy.
“I'm always bringing the energetic spark,” Jordan said.
That has been Jordan’s go-to leadership style, or as he puts it, bravado. And it’s worked for him. He leads by example and with intensity to not only push his teammates, but himself too.
“He's one of the leaders,” said Saints Head Coach Sean Payton. “We go back to the ‘11 draft when we took him. I think, number one, you lead with your performance and work on the field. He's one of those guys that's in great shape. He trains hard. It starts with the way he prepares.”
Jordan’s preparation never truly ends. Even during vet days, where veteran players are able to sit out of practice and concentrate on recovery techniques, he is tuned in mentally and meticulously watching his team’s defense in ways they can get better and translates that into ways he can improve himself.
“It's all about just the progression of things,” Jordan said. “It's not about over forcing situations on your body. Leading up to the season, it’s all about focusing on one thing to get better at each day, one thing to get better at each week. And then it starts to compound. So, by the time you get to the preseason or regular season, you're fully ready. Not only physically but mentally as well.”
The eight-year NFL veteran has been one of the best at his position for the last six seasons as he’s emerged into a mainstay for the Saints’ defense.
He has proven himself year after year with his productivity and longevity. In his eight seasons with New Orleans, he has never missed a game. That’s 128 games with 127 starts.
His 113 consecutive starts come in at 8th among active players. His 71.5 sacks put him fourth on the club’s all-time sack list and 12th among all active players in the league.
The two-time AP All Pro and four-time Pro Bowler has no intentions of slowing down any time soon. In his last four seasons, Jordan has 42.5 of his 71.5 sacks and added 28 passes defensed with 207 tackles.
Jordan says that at the end of the day, he is whatever his team needs him to be.
“From the jump starter of the game to being laser focused during the game when we need a big play,” he said. “I put it on myself but at the same time I tell my defense that we’re a unit and as a unit we move as one body, you’ve got one mindset.”
Each season of course comes with new learning curves and challenges. It’s rare for a defense to come back from a previous season with the same starting 11, which Jordan says is typically the biggest challenge. With all the offseason moves it’s likely to see new faces each year.
“Every season you start off with an entire new defense,” Jordan said. “It's very rare for a defense to be cemented in terms of the starters. I'm sort of excited about this year because I don't think that's the case as it has been in previous years. I think our starters are just sort of cemented. This is going to be a year where not only like 85 percent of our starters are going to be two or three years into the defense, but it’s something you have familiarity with. It’s somebody you don't have to break in.”
When he isn’t spending significant time wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks, Jordan is arguably one of the most, if not the most, active players in the community.
He regularly visits the pediatric ward of Ochsner Medical Center and stops by local schools to talk about a variety of topics including literacy, academics and stresses the importance of physical activity. In the offseason, Jordan went on an overseas USO Tour for the second time to support American military in remote locations. This summer, Jordan hosted his second annual Youth Football Camp, called the “C3” camp, emphasizing the principles of character, confidence and courage.
The list goes on.
Jordan was the team nominee for the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which goes to the player who best represents NFL’s commitment to philanthropy and community impact. When he was drafted in the first round of 2011 to New Orleans, he immediately embraced the city, somewhere he had never even visited before.
“At that point I have claimed this as my second home,” he said. “I am from Arizona, but I had every intention of making this my long-term home. Nine years later, that statement has been proven factual for me. In doing so, it feels like a secondary home. It feels like I am endeared to the city. It feels like wherever we go, it’s not only just a Saints thing or they see me as a Saints player, it’s more along the lines of being a part of the community.”
Jordan wants to be a Saint for life. He often mentions the career of his father, Steve Jordan, who played 13 seasons for Minnesota. That’s what Jordan has envisioned for his own career and he moved one step closer to that when he signed a contract extension keeping him in New Orleans until at least 2023.
"I have always said it is not about being the highest-paid player. I have got personal goals. As embedded as I am to this community, as much as I love this place, as much as my family is at home here, uprooting isn't really an option for me.
There’s just one thing missing: “Still gotta win the Super Bowl,” he says.
“… I’ve been able to be a part of all of it — except the Super Bowl.”