Panthers tight end Chris Manhertz prides himself on doing it all.
The third-year player from the Bronx has played in every Panthers regular season game the last two seasons and played in a career-best 32.5 percent of the offensive snaps in 2018. He also caught his first career touchdown on a 50-yard trick play from Christian McCaffrey.
Not bad for a guy who didn't even play football in college at Canisius. Manhertz finished his college career ranked fourth in school history with 789 rebounds.
The more you can do.
In that vein, Manhertz hasn't limited himself to his ever-continuing education of being an NFL tight end. The last two offseasons, he's sought education to answer a question of another kind: what will you do after football?
"In the NFL there's only an allotted amount of time to be in this league and I've always prided myself on utilizing my time wisely," Manhertz said. "We have a decent amount of time off in the offseason. Every offseason I try to do either do something that I've never done before to try to open my mind to new opportunities, and make certain connections and hopefully utilize those connections to set myself up for when I'm done playing."
This year, Manhertz applied for a three-week program with Fox Sports in Los Angeles. It was his second offseason internship after working with Under Armour last spring.
The programs are set up through the NFL Player's Association Externship Program. Through a formal interview process, players apply to a variety of three-week programs with groups such as NASA, United Way, Uninterrupted Media, The Players Tribune, Headspace, Discovery Channel and the U.S. Congress.
"From start to finish, it's a great opportunity to improve in all sorts of things," Manhertz said. "From the interview process to the networking and the actual details of the work, you learn and improve in every step of the process."
For Manhertz, the three weeks with Fox Sports opened his eyes to an industry that's both very familiar and still quite foreign.
"Being a professional athlete, you've done interviews and been in front of the camera, but as far as the ins and outs of show production, I had no idea. It was fascinating to learn so much more of what goes into it."
Working out of the studios for FS1 in Los Angeles, Manhertz met and shadowed on-air personalities such as Colin Cowherd, Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless, seeing all the preparation for air time as well as the post show breakdowns.
He also spent time on the production side working with producers, editors and sound engineers to learn the technology and techniques of video editing, graphics creation and audio control.
"It was fascinating to see all of the different little things that go into making a show that you don't even think about as a normal person," Manhertz said. "They have to do a lot of these things at lightning speed so that it can show up seamlessly for the viewer. It was such a cool experience."
On this particular externship, Manhertz was joined by Tampa Bay linebacker Cameron Lynch. Former Panther Damiere Byrd also did an externship this past spring with the NFLPA office itself.
"Chris was a joy to have as part at FOX Sports as part of the NFLPA Externship Program," said Jacob Ullman, FOX's senior vice president for production and talent development. "He was hard working and enthusiastic during his three weeks at our Los Angeles studios. The NFL players that participated got exposed to various aspects of the sports media industry that will help prepare them for a role in our business if they elect to go in that direction after their football careers are over."
While the experience was just a glimpse into a wide-ranging industry and Manhertz might not be entering a broadcast booth in the immediate future, he hopes that each externship will continue create a foundation for life after football.
"The more options you have and provide yourself, the better," Manhertz said. "I'm all about laying bricks and getting connections, so that when I decide what I'm really passionate about, I can attack it head on and already utilize skills and the connections that I've made."