Nick Mangold, Ryan Kalil
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

New York Jets center Ryan Kalil revealed that his hesitance to reach out to Nick Mangold was to the idea he thought he might “Ric Flair” him.

Robby Sabo

FLORHAM PARK, NJ—He could have used Holk Hogan. He could have gone with the people’s champion, The Rock. He could have carried a 12-pack above his shoulders and cited Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Instead, he went with the 16-time champion, Ric Flair.


New York Jets center Ryan Kalil revealed his personal quest to speak to as many individuals as he possibly could during the process of unretiring and coming to New Jersey. Among the players were Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey and linebacker Luke Kuechly, and former Jet great Nick Mangold.

Hilariously, Kalil explained his hesitance in reaching out to Mangold. Why? Well, he thought the greatest center in Jets history (save for the Kevin Mawae arguments) would “Ric Flair” him.

“I don’t know why, I just felt like I needed his blessing,” Kalil said Saturday. “But I decided not to call him because there was a 1 percent chance he was gonna Rick Flair me and tell me he did not approve, so I decided not to call him.”

In terms of the Flair-Mangold comparison … yeah, I’d say it’s pretty spot on.

Kalil, 34, is a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-Team All-Pro member who enjoyed 12 seasons in Carolina with the Panthers prior to his Florham Park arrival.

Kalil retired after the 2018 season. Of course, as per usual with most athletes, he got the itch to not hang ’em up just yet. Since Mitch Paradis was signed by the Panthers in free agency, Kalil’s avenue to return to the only NFL team he’s known was blocked.

It’s part of the reason he’s a Jet now, and general manager Joe Douglas couldn’t be more excited.

“Ryan Kalil is the guy that checks all of those boxes, smart, tough, highly-decorated player, five-time Pro Bowler, two-time First-Team All-Pro,” Douglas told reporters. “As good as he is on the field, he’s an even better teammate, father, husband, brother, so we just couldn’t be more excited to have Ryan.

“Shortly before camp opened, had some conversations with Tom Condon, his representative, and there was some mutual interest,” Douglas explained, as per the process.” We began our negotiating process shortly after that, so that’s kind of the genesis of this.”

Kalil will be eased into camp beginning Monday morning when the Jets get back at it after an off-day on Sunday.

Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]