By Dustin Fletcher
The Mayor of Sacksonville. Calais Campbell has been synonymous with the Jaguars defense since they signed the defensive end three seasons ago from the Arizona Cardinals. Few things are as recognizable as Campbell’s home run swing after a sack.
No player has quite embodied the leadership and the traits of the front office’s vision for the team’s defense quite like Campbell. Not only has Campbell been a spokesperson of sorts for the Jaguars since his arrival in 2017, but he has performed on the field as well.
Through 48 games, Campbell has 31.5 sacks. That is good enough to rank Campbell fourth all-time on the Jaguars sack list, in just three seasons. Not only this, but Campbell has also been incredibly effective at stopping the run for the Jaguars since his arrival.
Through 48 games, Campbell has 44 tackles for a loss. In total, Campbell has taken down either the quarterback or ball carrier over 75 times in only three seasons.
In other words, Campbell has been one of the best defensive players Jacksonville has ever seen, is a vocal leader in the locker room, is one of the team captains and carries quite a bit of gravity when he speaks.
Standing at 6’8” and 300 pounds, Campbell is a literal giant of men. He is seen everywhere he goes due to his incredible stature and booming voice. There is no doubt he is going into television after retirement, and he has even told me so. Campbell does not only perform with eyes on him on the field, but also off the field.
He was just awarded with the 2019-2020 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award. This award, named after the late Walter Payton is given to a player who embodies the NFL’s motive to keep teams involved in their communities. Campbell epitomized just that this year.
Campbell donated 1,000 dollars per Jaguars win, 5,000 dollars per sack for him, 2,000 dollars per tackle for loss and 10,000 dollars for each turnover or blocked kick the team forced. So not only was Campbell incredibly involved in his home community of Denver, Colorado and his new adopted home of Jacksonville with events such as “Christmas with Calais” where he gives underprivileged children a Christmas they could only dream of.
With the charitable initiative that Calais tied to his on the field excellence, he helped so many people with his excellence off the field. Throughout his career, Campbell has been involved in his own charity, the CRC Foundation, the Wounded Warrior Project, the Ronald McDonald House and many more.
Campbell quite literally fit the description of excellence on and off the field.
One personal narrative I can use to attest to Campbell’s off the field character comes from an interaction with him this past season during the interviews for “My Cause, My Cleats.”
I was heading out of the locker room to go home, and I was greeted by a booming voice saying, “Hey Dustin, did you get any good quotes today?” Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve chatted with Campbell about his on the field play countless times, win or lose. However, it was Calais’ initiative to talk to me personally before I left, to make me feel like I belonged in there.
He then proceeded to greet me with a smile and a quite firm handshake before asking if I’d like an interview, even though the set time for interviews was up.
Calais had somewhere else to be, and was supposed to be. However, in that moment he told the PR staff he offered a quote and that he wanted to do that before I left.
In that moment, I was the most important thing to Calais as we chatted about his aspirations for a broadcasting career after he eventually retires, or what his cause for the week had meant to him over the years.
This was a microcosm of the great player and man that Calais Campbell has been in Jacksonville ever since he arrived in 2017. There have been countless personal anecdotes just like mine, and moments of pure joy from kids who get a Christmas of their dreams because of Campbell.
Campbell is Jacksonville’s man, on and off the field. When he hangs up his cleats, the franchise should be honored to have had such a great player and man in the community of #DUUUVAL nation. They should inevitably pay that back to Calais with a spot for him in the team’s ring of honor.