Former Cal star Cameron Jordan got good news and bad news this week, although not in that order.
The New Orleans Saints’ defensive end was placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday after testing positive. Unless he produces two negative tests in the meantime, he will miss the first game of his pro career on Sunday.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen, also formerly of Cal, is in the same situation with the Los Angeles Chargers, the NFL reported.
Meanwhile, Jordan was announced Tuesday as the Saints’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, recognizing his work in the New Orleans community.
All 32 NFL teams select a nominee for the award that honors performance on and off the field, including charity and volunteer work.
"Cameron's service has been driven by love for this community since he first joined the Saints family ten years ago," said Saints owner Gayle Benson in a statement. "He has a love for this community that rubs off in all of his initiatives. He is fully committed to all that he does – both on and off the field. He is a longtime team leader, devoted husband and father, and selfless servant to our community.”
Jordan, 32, played at Cal from 2007 through ’10. Since being selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft by the Saints, he has played in all 172 games, 171 of them as a starter.
"I understand the impact we as NFL players can have on our youth, underserved communities and just taking advantage of the opportunities to make the world a better place," Jordan said of his nomination in a statement. "It means the world to me that I may uplift someone with my time, resources, or encouragement.
"I am blessed to have the ability to give back to this community that has welcomed me with open arms since being drafted ten years ago.”
Nola.com reported that Jordan this year partnered with the Crescent City Corps to launch the Inspire Change social justice initiative with the aims to improve community and police relations in the New Orleans area.
"I have always believed in developing initiatives to create a positive change," Jordan said in a statement. "I strongly believe that if we can help the officers in this program understand and engage with our city, my city's, most challenging issues better, while also working toward a more just and safe New Orleans — then I am all in.”
Jordan also does work through his God Iz Love charitable foundation. He regularly visits schools in the New Orleans area on his off days to spend time with children.
Jordan has five seasons with 10 or more sacks. He is a six-time Pro Bowl honoree and has 98.5 career sacks.
The Walter Payton Man of the Year award is considered one of the league's most prestigious honors. It was created in 1970 and renamed after the later Hall of Fame running back in 1999.
All 32 nominees will receive up to a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of their choice.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson won the award in 2020. The 2021 winner will be announced during NFL Honors, which will air Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. on ABC and the NFL Network.
The Saints and Chargers may have to play without a couple of their top players on Sunday.
Jordan is tied for second on the Saints with four sacks, and his 13 quarterback hits lead the team.
Allen, who played at Cal from 2010-12, leads the Chargers with 86 receptions and 929 receiving yards and has four touchdown catches. Last week, in a 41-22 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, Allen caught two TDs and threw a two-point conversion pass to quarterback Justin Herbert.
The 29-year-old has caught more than 100 passes in three of the past four seasons and has 710 career receptions for 8,326 yards with 46 touchdowns.
Cover photo of Cameron Jordan by Christopher Hanewinckel, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo