'Infectious' community visits a part of Cameron Jordan's weekly routine

Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan hosted the Copeland's Saints Kids Club end-of-year camp Tuesday at the Saints' practice facility. Mike Triplett/ESPN

METAIRIE, La. -- It’s a Tuesday during football season, so it’s a safe bet that Cameron Jordan is somewhere out in the New Orleans community.

Probably playing with kids.

The Saints' 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee is admittedly a big kid himself, at heart. And his closest friend on the team, running back Mark Ingram, joked that he thinks the reason Jordan has been doing all these charity events on a weekly basis throughout his seven-year career is because he’s just looking for an excuse to play games.

Jordan, 28, in his typical playful manner, has a different theory.

“Once it started, it’s like Pringles. Once you pop, you can’t stop,” Jordan said on Tuesday night, while hosting the Copeland’s Saints Kids Club end-of-year camp. “When you talk about just the infectious nature of a child’s smile, that ability for them to be happy at every turn, it’s hard to do a camp like this and not want to do more.

“I come here for the kids, steal pass rush moves and energy. Apparently I’m a succubus for other kids’ livelihoods. I’m taking in their positive energy.”

Jordan, 28, started volunteering for off-day community appearances during his first year or two in the NFL -- and never stopped -- despite starting a family of his own with two children and despite becoming one of the most prominent players on the roster with three Pro Bowl invites and an annual salary of more than $11 million per year.

The Saints estimated that Jordan has participated in some sort of community activity on more than 90 percent of his off days throughout his career, plus several more events during the offseason -- including the USO Tour he went on to Southwest Asia in the spring.

“Every single Tuesday, he’s at some middle school, some high school, some hospital, some Air Force base,” Ingram said. “And that’s our day off -- that’s our only day off, really -- so that’s a testament to his character. Giving up his own time, sacrificing his own time with his family to pour into our youth, to pour into people less fortunate.

“That’s just the way he was raised. And I really admire that about him, man, because I love my day off. And I can’t say every Tuesday that I’ve been in the community doing things. I appreciate that as a teammate, as a good friend, as a human being. All of us are here today because somebody has mentored us or helped us be the man that we are today. And for him to be at these schools, hospitals, military bases, just to show people that he cares and give his heart to people, I’m sure that brightens people’s days.

“I’m proud of him. That’s my brother, man. And he’s been doing that, so I’m not surprised, but I’m glad he’s getting the notoriety and publicity now.”

Jordan was particularly active in the community during this week leading up to Christmas, either hosting or helping out with at least four different events:

Hosting the event for former teammate Will Smith's "Where There's A Will, There's A Way" foundation is particularly special to Jordan. Jordan joined Smith’s wife, Racquel, in hosting the event after Smith was tragically shot and killed last year following a pair of traffic incidents.

“The honor that it is just to be asked to participate in an event like that, it’s a no-brainer,” Jordan said. “When you talk about how much good he did in the community, what he meant to the Saints, everything that he meant to New Orleans, it was just a no-brainer for me.”

Jordan has never started a foundation of his own because he doesn’t want to limited to certain charitable causes, he said. He said he likes the idea of bouncing from one event to another and being spontaneous when opportunities come up.

Jordan said part of his attitude comes from his father, Steve Jordan, a former standout tight end for the Minnesota Vikings.

“I don’t think he forced anything. It was just through the nature of him being himself,” said Jordan, who saw his dad host various camps and give talks to kids. “Whatever he did, he made sure that kids that were less fortunate than his own, that may not have had the upbringing that he had, just to let ‘em know that you can still have a positive impact.

“I make it a point to get back in the community to just have the kids know that there’s somebody that can be a positive role model out there, that there’s somebody in a position like I’m in that still shows love to the kids and still shows positive vibes. Anything that you can put your mind to you can achieve. And once you achieve that, just aim for higher goals.”