DENVER — Things first began not to add up when looking at his college major. Calvin Anderson earned a degree in mathematical economic analysis at Rice University. As a grad transfer to the University of Texas, he studied finance.
He has been solving Rubik's Cubes since the age of 13, and now 24, he can match the colors behind his back.
So I had to ask: Why, Calvin, are you playing football when it seems you could be solving the world's problems, or at least equations?
"It's a reasonable question," Anderson said with a chuckle during an exclusive interview with Denver7. "The reason I am, and hopefully it's a testament to how much much I care, is that I love football so much. I was willing to give up all the other things in my life, put them on the back burner. I could talk for hours about all the things football teaches you. There's just stuff about football that you cannot replicate in other avenues in life."
His family, especially father Devry Anderson, a retired Army colonel who serves as the chief medical officer at St. David's South Austin (Texas) Medical Center, encouraged Calvin to pursue multiple interests. There is nothing about Anderson that is one dimensional. He views the world through a prism of colors, and like the Rubik's Cube, he relates it back to his current profession.
"All the guys will tell you I bring my cubes with me to games. The cube helps me focus. It's part of my pregame ritual," said Anderson, who is sponsored by Rubik's Cube. "There are a lot of benefits with blending my critical thinking with football and identifying my assignments. It's a cool tool."
Signed off the Jets practice squad in 2019, Anderson made the Broncos roster out of training camp and played in all 16 games. At 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, be boasts quick feet and a good feel for the position. As former Broncos tackle Ryan Harris told Denver7, "I see his ability to listen to what coach (Mike) Munchak has taught him. His patience, ability to wait for the rush and play within the technique is exceptional. I can tell you he surprised a couple of people on the coaching staff last year. He's the kind of guy I love to watch."
Will the Broncos see more of him?
The plan remains for Ja'Wuan James to return after opting out of last season due to concerns with COVID-19. James is a solid player. However, he has logged 63 snaps with the Broncos in two years since signing a four-year, $51 million contract with $32 million guaranteed. A left knee injury sabotaged his 2019 season after he hurt it in the opener, then aggravated it on the turf at Indianapolis and Houston. Coach Vic Fangio questioned James' emotional state when talking about his inability to play more quickly.
The pair cleared the air at the end of 2019 season, and Fangio has said he has talked with James about his return. However, the reality is that the Broncos have not seen him in pads in 15 months, so uncertainty exists. For his part, Anderson wants to show he can be counted on if needed.
"First and foremost we are taught as offensive lineman to control what we can control. It’s like that when you play in the trenches. You can only control if you block well. In the offseason, I can control my ability to prepare mentally and physically," Anderson said. "What I want the Broncos to know is that any moment I can play right tackle or left tackle, and I am guy that can play those at a high level."
To put himself in position to take the next step, Anderson followed Garett Bolles to train in Southern California this offseason. Bolles made a remarkable transition during the quarantine last spring, dedicating himself to improvement that included his wife serving as a defensive end in the kitchen for drills after they put the kids to bed.
"When Garett talks about the 'GB zone,' it all stems from his mental approach. We are emotional players and this game requires passion. When you become elite -- and I have seen it from Garett (who was an All-Pro in 2020) -- you have controlled aggression," Anderson explained. "He is able to compartmentalize from one play and one moment to the next. He's always been willing to help me since I got to Denver, and he didn't have to. So physically, we are pushing ourselves to new limits."
Anderson works out with Bolles five days a week and uses the weekend to refuel with a specific diet to aid in recovery. He laughed through the pain as he talked.
"We did legs earlier in the week," Anderson said. "And I still can't walk."
Anderson's enthusiasm for his craft is contagious. He smiles a lot. He had another options in life. But the gravitational pull of football remains strong. It is the next puzzle he wants to solve.
"I take it not only as a huge responsibility, but a privilege to play this game," Anderson said. "I love football. I really do."