Calvin Anderson has a puzzling talent that goes beyond blocking big defensive lineman.
The Denver Broncos rookie offensive tackle has a knack for quickly solving a Rubik’s Cube, even if it’s behind his back or blindfolded.
He’s so good, in fact, that Rubik’s Cube signed him this week as a brand ambassador – the first professional athlete to serve in that role.
The 23-year-old Anderson will get to travel to international events on behalf of the company, while also producing content for Rubik’s and publicly supporting various endeavors by the company.
”I would never have imagined that one day I would be a brand ambassador for the Cube the first time I picked it up,” Anderson told The Associated Press. ”It’s unbelievable.”
Oh, and get this: One of the other perks he gets is his own personal Calvin Anderson-branded cubes.
”Calvin’s sportsmanship and ability to bridge both physical and mind sports effectively make him an ideal brand ambassador for Rubik’s,” Christoph Bettin, CEO of Rubik’s Brand Limited, said in a statement. ”We are delighted to welcome him.”
Anderson was signed by New England as an undrafted free agent and claimed off waivers by New York in May. He was signed to Denver’s active roster off the New York Jets’ practice squad on Oct. 1, and has been inactive his first three games with the Broncos.
Anderson told the AP in July while he was in training camp with the Jets that he first started trying to solve Rubik’s Cube puzzles in middle school while growing up in Texas. He estimated he has solved thousands of the six-sided cubes with the white, blue, red, green, yellow and orange squares.
Anderson has degrees in mathematical economics and religion with a minor in business from Rice. He transferred to Texas to focus fully on football, but is now working on a master’s in finance.
So, problem solving and puzzles are second nature for him.
”This opportunity is particularly special because of how pivotal the Rubik’s Cube has been in my intellectual development growing up,” Anderson said. ”To now be in a position to represent the company that created the cube feels incredible.”
Blessuan Austin has waited for this chance from the moment he was drafted by the Jets in the sixth round in April.
So, when the rookie cornerback finally got cleared by team doctors and practiced for the first time in the NFL this week, he couldn’t help but get fired up on the field.
”I’m in love with the game,” Austin said. ”I’ve got that 9-year-old love for the game again. You go through so many years playing the game, you kind of take it for granted, subconsciously. So, to be away from it for a little while – a long time, actually – and to come back, you appreciate the little things. You know, go out there, put your helmet on, buckle up your chin strap and this is the highest level you can do it at.”
Austin had been rehabbing a knee injury suffered in his final season at Rutgers – the second straight year a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee kept him away from playing the game he loves.
”It definitely tested my patience,” said Austin, from Queens in New York. ”There were definitely a couple of times throughout the process where I felt like I could go and then two days, three days later, something new popped up and they’d be like, `OK, maybe in another week, you’ll be all right.’
”From that to now, to finally put that behind me and shelf it, it’s something I’m happy with.”
Austin remains on the Jets’ reserve/non-football injury list, but being cleared for practice means the team has three weeks to decide whether to put him on the active roster or place him on the season-ending injured reserve list if he’s not fully ready to play.
But, he certainly made a good first impression on the coaching staff.
”That was a guy that was excited to be at practice, I know that,” coach Adam Gase said. ”He was flying around. I think he was sick and tired of running on the side. For him to be able to be out there, he was legitimately – you saw a guy that was really excited to be out there. He was making life miserable for a lot of the wide receivers.”
Austin had 41 tackles, 14 passes defensed, one interception and one sack as a sophomore for the Scarlet Knights, and was being considered a potential second- or third-round pick. Then, came the injuries the next two seasons, but the Jets had seen enough potential to give him a shot.
Now, Austin is looking forward to proving the team right. And, the first step came with his first NFL practice.
”I was pretty pumped, you know?” a smiling Austin said. ”Just to know how fast the game can be taken away from you. That’s probably one of the biggest lessons I learned. Now, I just give it my all, just go hard and give it 100% so when the day’s over, I don’t have any regrets. That was someone I regretted when I got hurt, that I didn’t give it my all out there. So, when I was hurt, I was wishing I could get out there and do what I really think I was capable of doing.”
Linebacker Vince Biegel is in his third year in the NFL and already playing for his fourth defensive coordinator. And last week for the Miami Dolphins, he made his first career start.
”That’s the life of the NFL,” Biegel said. ”If you don’t adapt, you won’t be here for long.”
Biegel was a fourth-round draft pick by the Packers in 2017. Last year they waived him, and he played on special teams for the Saints. The Dolphins acquired him last month in the trade that sent veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Saints.
The former Wisconsin linebacker is now trying to find some job security with the winless Dolphins as they rebuild.
”I want this team to be tough,” coach Brian Flores said, ”and I think he brings that.”
The Pro Football Hall of Fame partnered with SignGlasses LLC to give visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing an opportunity to better experience the museum.
SignGlasses developed some innovative technology that’s designed to expand and enhance communication access options. It will be used in the museum’s theaters, and guests will be able to use smart glasses that include captioning during the presentations.
The Hall and SignGlasses will also co-host an annual Deaf Awareness Day at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, during the course of the three-year agreement.
”We are pleased to bring this enhancement to the Hall so all visitors can be immersed in our great museum experience that is centered around the inspiring stories from America’s favorite sport,” Pro Football Hall of Fame Vice President of Exhibits/Museum Services Saleem Choudhry said.
SEEING THE FUTURE
The NFL Players Association and NFL Media agreed this week to a multiyear deal to broadcast the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl live on NFL Network.
The NFLPA’s all-star college showcase will air exclusively on the year-round network home of the NFL through 2024 as a result of the agreement.
The ninth annual game is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST on Jan. 18, 2020, at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.
AP Sports Writer Steven Wine in Miami contributed.
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