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Undefeated Athlete of the Week

Saints’ Cam Jordan shows love to World War II vet with two Super Bowl tickets

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That’s love.

That’s how Cam Jordan answers most questions — at least the ones that force him to reflect a bit, slowing his rat-a-tat response pace.

Asked how he enjoyed his third Pro Bowl appearance, the star defensive end who has anchored the New Orleans Saints’ D-line for seven years said: “Seeing guys you compete with and against all season and having a chance to experience that whole vibe … that’s love.”

That’s also the feeling Saints fans have toward Jordan, who attacked the year (and opposing quarterbacks) like a man on a mission, finishing 2017 with 62 combined tackles and career highs in sacks (13) and passes defensed (11).

And while the Saints’ season was tarnished by an epic playoff loss to Minnesota — the team for which Cam’s father, Steve, played for 13 seasons — 2017 was also marked by a chance meeting with a one-of-a-kind man.

“He came to a practice, and he was sitting there and moving rather well,” said Jordan of Lawrence Brooks, a 108-year-old World War II veteran who visited the Saints’ facility last November, the NFL’s Salute to Service month. “He had a cane, but it’s not like he was leaning on his cane. I mean, I’m looking at him and I’m like, ‘How do you even get to be 108?’ ”

“You can’t even begin to imagine how much this man’s been through,” Jordan told The Undefeated. “He’s been through history; he’s lived the Cold War. At 108, do you even have a bucket list? He’s done everything …”

Except attend a Super Bowl.

Jordan was happy to give a pair of Super Bowl tickets to Brooks, a lifelong Saints fan who, during his time in World War II, was in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, according to WGNO.

World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks receives a custom jersey from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, coach Sean Payton and executive vice president/general manager Mickey Loomis during a visit to the team’s facility this past November, the NFL’s Salute to Service month.

New Orleans Saints

“It just made that much more sense that he had never been to a Super Bowl to give something to him,” Jordan told TheAdvocate.com. “As blessed as I am, I love that I can try and bless other people.”

For his kindness and thoughtfulness, Jordan is our Undefeated Athlete of the Week.

Giving to others is not new territory for Jordan. He was the Saints’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which was established in 1970 and renamed in 1999 after Walter Payton, the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back.

Though honored, Jordan hardly saw what the fuss was about.

“I take it as an honor,” said Jordan, who since his rookie year in 2011 has participated in a community event almost every week, and sometimes multiple events in one week. “But I feel like we have guys on our team who do what I do in the community and so much more. Just to be mentioned with the other guys for this award is special. You’re talking about guys who’ve impacted their cities on a grand scale, guys like [Ravens tight end] Ben Watson, [Seahawks defensive end] Michael Bennett, [Eagles safety] Malcolm Jenkins, [Dolphins wide receiver] Kenny Stills, [Panthers tight end] Greg Olsen and, of course, [Texans defensive end] J.J. Watt, who raised all that money for Houston after the hurricane hit.”

The 108-year-old Brooks is headed to his first Super Bowl thanks to Saints defensive end Cam Jordan.

New Orleans Saints

Said Jarrett Payton, Walter’s son: “While I don’t know Cam, from the people who I know who know him, he’s a stand-up guy who’s definitely deserving of being the Saints’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.” Payton will attend the awards ceremony during NFL Honors, a two-hour awards special to air nationally at 9 p.m. EST on NBC on Saturday, the eve of Super Bowl LII. “His gesture is pretty similar to what my dad would do if he was here.”

While the icing on the cake would have been to play in the Super Bowl with Brooks in the stands, Jordan still feels a kinship that will last.

“I really wanted to give him tickets and have the Saints be there,” Jordan said. “I definitely saw that in our plans. But again, everything he did way back in his younger days just to be able to say he’s 108. He’s still a huge Saints fan. That’s love.”

Love indeed.

Mark W. Wright is a Charlotte-based sports journalist and documentarian.