The Exit Interview: Calais Campbell

September 10, 2017. The first Jaguars game of the 2017 NFL season. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who finished the previous season 3-13, are looking to bounce back after drafting LSU running back Leonard Fournette with the 4th round pick in the draft. The Jaguars are playing the division rival, The Houston Texans in Houston. Veteran defensive end Calais Campbell, who just signed with the Jaguars, is looking to prove that while he may be older, he is still a huge threat in the pass-rush and worth his large contract.

On one of Campbells’ first plays, Texans QB Tom Savage drops back to pass—Campbell stumbles. But he didn’t want to let his team down. When it was all said and done, he and the rest of the powerful Jaguars defense combined for 10 sacks that game, with Campbell accounting for four of the sacks, a still-standing franchise record for most sacks by a single player.

Calais Campbell is known as the Mayor of Sacksonville for a reason.

How the upcoming NFL season will play out is unknown, but we do know that after being traded to the Baltimore Ravens, Campbell will no longer be a Jaguar. For one of his last interviews with a Jacksonville outlet, he sat down with Folio to discuss his experience with the Jaguars, and his thoughts on the virtual NFL offseason and COVID-19.

Even though he was traded, it’s clear Campbell harbors no ill will towards the Jaguars. “They were incredible… I really enjoyed my time,” he said. “I’ve experienced so much love and appreciation for my craft.” Campbell also said he takes pride in doing things the way they should be done, and his numbers would suggest that: 31.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, and 137 solo tackles, as well as being invited to the Pro Bowl in each of his three years and a first team All-Pro in 2017.

Campbell is thankful for all the support and recognition from the city and its fans, and it’s clear he’ll always be a Jags fan. “You can’t control getting traded. It’s one of those things that’s part of the game. I never thought I would experience it and I have seen it happen to other teammates over the years…but it happens and all I can do is appreciate my time with Jacksonville and go on and make the best of my time in Baltimore. Hopefully a Super Bowl will make it worth it.”

Campbell earned the honor of Walter Payton Man of the Year at NFL Honors 2020, an award recognizing strong leadership qualities on and off the field. As the Mayor of Sacksonville and the Man of the Year, Campbell has shown fans that he is not only a great football player, but a great person as well. He said, “The biggest thing is learning from my experiences in Jacksonville and trying to find the people who need help in Baltimore…and how to help them in the best way.” 

With the NFL season clouded by COVID-19, players on new teams like Campbell have not been able to practice in normal ways. “The coronavirus has been very hard on everybody…it hasn’t left anybody out,” he said. Campbell hopes that the season can get going and the players can “go out there and do our jobs at the highest level without risking our health.” He acknowledged that the virus can have long-term effects and football puts people at a higher risk, but he knows that football can be a bright spot in these uncertain times and bring the community together.

At the end of his interview, Folio had one request: a final DUUUVAL for the Jaguars fans. After brief hesitation, and a reminder that he is on a new team, he humbly obliged.