The 7-4 Baltimore Ravens currently sit atop the competitive AFC North despite losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12. Standout performances from their star players have been the driving force behind Baltimore’s success. Six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Calais Campbell has been a massive contributor. Campbell ranks second in the team in sacks with 5.5 quarterback takedowns.
Campbell joined The Draft Network for an exclusive discussion earlier this week while promoting his partnership with Campbell’s Chunky and the Chunky Sacks Hunger relief program. Campbell discussed Sunday’s difficult loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Campbell also shed light on the performances of quarterback Lamar Jackson, Baltimore’s standout rookie class, and so much more.
JM: You’ve teamed up with Campbell’s Chunky to host a food donation event at Maryland Food Bank as part of the Chunky Sacks Hunger relief program. The program is designed to fight food inequality. Why is this cause so important to you and your family?
Calais Campbell: It’s very important to me mainly because we know how many people are out there suffering from food inequality and hunger in general. I was a part of that population myself when I was a kid growing up. My family didn’t have much. I’m blessed to have the ability to help people in need. That goes for any time really, but especially right now during the Holidays. Helping my community is very important to me.
I’m thankful for this partnership with Campbell’s Chunky. We’ve been able to donate 100,000 meals to the Maryland Food Bank. That’s truly incredible to me. The program is donating one million meals in total throughout this NFL season around the country. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
JM: It truly is a special program that’s helping so many families in need. That was a difficult loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. You of course played for Jacksonville from 2017 to 2019. Was it fun to head back to TIAA Bank Field, where you created so many memories?
Calais Campbell: It was fun to go back there, but it would have been a lot more fun if we won (laughs). After a tough loss like that one, I tend to get frustrated and upset. That’s what I’m focused on out of that trip to Jacksonville.
I was thankful to head to the Maryland Food Bank and do some great work in the community. It took my mind off the loss a little bit. Doing good certainly helps get the bad taste out of my mouth after a difficult loss. It reminds me how blessed I am to be playing in the NFL. Helping people is a really good feeling.
JM: It certainly is. You’re on quite the streak right now. You’ve recorded at least half a sack in five straight contests. Do you feel like you unlocked something in recent weeks?
Calais Campbell: Not really to be honest with you. It’s just football at the end of the day. I’ve always believed that sacks come in bunches. As long as you’re playing football as hard as you can, a lot of times you make plays, but sometimes you don’t. I definitely feel like I’ve put my best foot forward this season. I’ve done everything within my power to go out there and be at my very best.
I feel like this team is special. We’re capable of achieving something special. I’m going to continue doing everything I can to help our team win football games.
JM: And speaking of, the Ravens are sitting at 7-4 and in first place in the AFC North. You’ve won four of your last five, yet the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs continue to dominate the headlines in the conference. Do you feel like the Ravens are being disrespected or slept on a little bit?
Calais Campbell: I think we’re a good team and it doesn’t matter what people think right now. It’s all about where we go from here. We’re sitting in a good position right now as you said. We’re getting ready to make a run for it.
As of now, who cares who people think the best team in football is? We’ll get a chance to prove who we are down the stretch. All of those questions will be answered in the postseason. That time will come.
JM: Absolutely. I want to get your thoughts on the way Lamar Jackson is playing at quarterback. There was a lot of disrespect for Lamar this summer. It feels like he could be in the mix at MVP.
Calais Campbell: He’s a great player. As a defense, we know he’s going to do some great stuff when we get the ball back in his hands. We’re taking things one game at a time. Lamar is our leader. As he goes, we go as a team.
JM: Lamar is scheduled to reach free agency. Does Baltimore need to give him the bag?
Calais Campbell: There’s no way in the world Baltimore is letting Lamar Jackson go (laughs). They have to do what they have to do. It’s Lamar Jackson. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of talent at the quarterback position.
JM: He sure is. This rookie class in Baltimore looks special. Kyle Hamilton, Tyler Linderbaum, Travis Jones, and Isaiah Likely have all contributed. David Ojabo is back. You’ve been around several rookie classes. What makes this one special?
Calais Campbell: It’s a talented class. General manager Eric DeCosta does a really good job evaluating talent. He looks for guys that are going to work hard, and he’s found a bunch of them in this class. They’re a bunch of guys that are trying to improve and they have the right mindset.
You don’t want to become overly reliant on rookies but we have some rookies that have been very, very dependable for us. It’s been great to see. I hope their careers continue to develop. There’s a lot of football left for those guys. They have to continue to develop.
JM: They sure do. You’ve had so many unbelievable teammates throughout the years, and that makes me want to put you on the spot. If you were going to war tomorrow and could only bring one teammate with you, past or present, who would you bring and why?
Calais Campbell: That’s impossible for me to answer (laughs). I’ve had too many amazing teammates that I depend on. I’ve been depending on so many guys throughout my entire career. I can pick any number of them. It would be a very hard question to answer. I can’t pick one or two of them. I could pick a bunch of guys and I’d feel comfortable going to war with them. I’ve had too many great teammates.
JM: Could you narrow it down to 3-5?
Calais Campbell: I still couldn’t do that (laughs). I have way more than that. I have 3-5 on our defensive line right now. I’d go to war with any of those guys, and that’s just current teammates (laughs).
JM: Who is the first person Calais Campbell thanks during his Hall of Fame speech?
Calais Campbell: My mother first and foremost. She’s sitting next to me right now (laughs). I wouldn’t have an NFL career if it wasn’t for her. I wouldn’t be in a position to help my community if it wasn’t for her. There’s nothing without my mom. She’s the person that nurtured me and made me the person that I am today.
She gets the first thank you anytime I’m doing anything. But she would definitely get the first thank you if I’m blessed enough to give a Hall of Fame induction speech one day.
JM: I certainly feel honored that your mother joined us for this conversation! I’ve appreciated your time today, Calais. At 36 years old, have you thought ahead to the 2023 campaign? What are your goals for the remainder of this season?
Calais Campbell: My main goal is to stay healthy and try to contribute as much as I can. That’s it really. I’m trying to find a way to help the team win football games. Next year is too far away to even think about (laughs).
As of right now, I feel pretty good. I’m hoping to finish the season strong. I’m doing the best I can. If there’s going to be a next year for me, we’ll think about it when the offseason arrives.