As Cameron Jordan is walking into the building where I will interview him, a woman walking her large gray poodle is also entering. The poodle immediately gravitates toward the Saints defensive end, and soon I’m treated to the adorable image of this hulking football player and fluffy dog interacting. “Are you afraid of poodles?” the dog’s owner says. “No,” Jordan replies.
“But I’ve never met a friendly one.”
It turns out that this poodle might be Jordan’s spirit animal. He is big, as defensive ends are, but he’s got a soft spot and a goofy sense of humor. He is eager to talk about frozen yogurt and how he’s recently gotten into “country stuff” like fishing and hunting. When I ask him if he’s married, he says, “Married to life.”
The West Coast native is coming up on his third season with the Saints. The 2013 season was a breakout one for him, earning the fifth most sacks in the NFL and a spot in the Pro Bowl. We talked about the upcoming season, adjusting to life in New Orleans and the merits of do-it-yourself frozen yogurt places.
Your dad is former Minnesota Vikings tight end Steve Jordan. Growing up were you expected to play football? That’s probably far from the truth. My mom sort of kept us away from that life. Really, we played every sport except football. We weren’t allowed to play football until we were teenagers, so she sheltered us a little bit.
What did you want to be growing up? I wanted to play basketball, but I felt like every kid wants to play basketball when they start. I thought I was legit at basketball, but there were so many other routes to go. If I left it up to my mother, I’d probably still be in school somewhere.
What career would you want to have if you didn’t play football, and it didn’t matter what training or education you had? You mean besides being a basketball player? If sports weren’t an option, I’d probably be a P.E. teacher.
Are you good with kids? I’m pretty good with kids. Normally my off-field activities have everything to do with kids. I’m always talking to kids in schools around New Orleans. Back home I’m doing camps with my boys. I’m just really involved in giving back. It’d be nice to still be around kids and zap a little energy from them every once in a while.
What is like playing under Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan? Rob is great. He’s a rock star, man. He coaches with such energy that you have to try to match it.
What did you learn as a rookie from the veteran players? I learned a lot of things. I learned how to actually watch film. And then you know, how to live and getting into your own routine, what’s best for you and not just what you’re being told to do, and things like that.
Do you think you’re the most intimidating Saints player on Twitter? The most intimidating? Not at all. I don’t even think I give a real opinion. I just put out my opinion. I don’t get a really heavily formulated opinion on any topic. Most intimidating? No way. I’d probably have to give that to my other D-lineman, Junior Galette. I’d give him that one.
What’s your favorite social network? Probably Instagram, because you can see everything. For some reason people feel like they can post things on Instagram that they won’t put on Twitter, that they don’t put on Facebook.
What do you like doing in the offseason? I like traveling. I like being in different areas. Honestly, within the next year or two, I need to get to at least two more different countries. I’m going to see if I can knock off another country this summer before my birthday, but we’ll see what happens.
I’m getting into the country thing right now. I just started going fishing – been going once a week for the past month and a half. Went hunting, shot me a wild boar last weekend. We’re getting some sausages and pork chops being made, a little fatback. I don’t even know what “fatback” is but I’m looking forward to it. Been mudding … went bow fishing. I’m sort of up for it all.
What are some of your goals this year for the defense, as far as how you play and how you want the team to play? As far as myself, I got to do a better job of being more of a leader on the D-line. As far as the D-line goes, I think we have enough talent to be one of the best, if not the best, D-line to hit the game this year. As far as defense goes, we’ve got to be better than we did last year. We were top five defense, I’m pretty sure we can break in to No. 1. Easy. As far as the team goes, we’re always looking to win a Superbowl. I need some metal on that hand.
Was it an easy adjustment moving to New Orleans? Ha. Yeah, sure. Let’s go with that one. I’m a West Coast kid. I’m from Arizona, went to school up in the Bay at Cal. And then my life changed – I got shipped down here. Everything’s different from where I’ve been. Even in Arizona you’ve got Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler, Tuscon – everything’s in pretty close proximity, different cities you can go to. As far as California you’ve got San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, L.A., Vegas, wherever you need to go … and then you come here, and the closest thing is … Mississippi is an hour away, that’s what you get if you come here. You get Biloxi. Which is not a bad place, I’m finding out this year. Four hours away is Houston. You got to make drives to go places.
But do you like living here overall? Yeah, it’s grown on me.
True confession? I like frozen yogurt over ice cream.
Do you go to Pinkberry? I like Tutti Frutti better than Pinkberry. Not the quality of it – Pinkberry tastes better – as far as Tutti Frutti goes, I like to put my own toppings on it. I guess you can call me a control freak.
I feel like I go crazy when I have the option of doing it myself. It ends up costing $12 when I’m through with it.
But hey, you’re happy. That’s what it’s about: self-satisfaction.
At a Glance
Age: 24 Profession: Def ensive e nd, New Orleans Saints Born/raised: Born in Minnesota, rai sed in Arizona Education: Univers ity California, Berkeley Favorite Movie: “Of all time? The Lion K ing. But of my a dult recent years? Breakin’ All the Rules.” Favorite TV Shows: “I just got into ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’” Favorite band/musician: “Depends on my mood. I will go from electronic to funk so fas t.” Favorite restaurant: Mr. John’s Steakhouse Favorite food: Mexican Favorite vacati on spot: Argentina or Brazil