SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Fairly or not (for my own safety, I say it's unfair), football players typically aren't identified as men of letters.
Center Ryan Kalil has my back.
"Not all the guys like to read on my team or in my profession in general," he said.
Kalil might not truly be an anomaly – though his head coach did call him "special" Sunday – but he does have a way with words. In more ways than one, in fact.
Kalil has written a book – "not ghostwriter," he stresses – with two fellow offensive linemen, no less. He's also more than dabbling in Hollywood along with a basketball star and the world's most famous mouse.
And, if that's not enough, he's adding to his voluminous vocabulary at training camp.
"One thing we're doing is that we've changed up almost all of our code words, so it's kind of like a new playbook," said Kalil, who serves as Cam Newton's traffic cop in the Panthers' prolific offense. "We've used a lot of the same code words over the years, and with all the audio stuff that other teams get to pick up on TV, we spent this offseason changing all the terminology.
"That's probably been the toughest part of camp."
Before arriving at camp, Kalil was busy putting words on paper. Along with former offensive linemen and teammates Jordan Gross and Geoff Hangartner, he penned "The Rookie Handbook – How to Survive the First Season in the NFL."
It's due out September 6, two days before the Panthers and Broncos open the NFL season with a rematch of Super Bowl 50.
"Given our sense of humor, there's a sarcastic tone, but there's useful information in there," Kalil said. "It started out as a joke. We had a little 10-page rookie handbook specifically for an offensive line meeting room, and we always said we should do a book.
"It was fun to sit down and reminisce with the guys."
Pro Bowler first. Then author. What's next?
How about big-time movie producer?
Kalil has teamed with Los Angeles Clipper superstar Blake Griffin to form Mortal Media, and their venture has put itself in position to co-produce a sequel to the 1991 Disney film "The Rocketeer."
"Film is something I've been very passionate about for a long time, and every offseason back in California I've done something in production. So I started a production company with a fellow athlete and friend of mine, and we started going around town and finding projects we were excited about," Kalil explained. "The Rocketeer was one that we've been huge fans of, and we knew Disney was trying to figure out what to do with it. So we found some talented writers, and they figured out a really exciting take to the story, and we took it to Disney and they liked it.
"It's still way earlier in development, but it's a fun thing to do."
Kalil said some of his teammates have asked him about having cameos, but all of that will have to wait until after the Panthers try to write a Hollywood ending to their upcoming season.
"I try to be somewhat cultured. We play football for a living, but we try not to let it define who we are," Kalil said. "Everybody has their passion they pursue in the offseason, which I think is fine as long, as Cam says, you don't forget your day job."
View photos from Carolina's fourth training camp practice.