As a defensive tackle, Woody Baron likes to flatten his opponents on the field. But off the field where he's inflicted more than his fair share of bruises, the Montreal Alouettes player in his rookie season with the Canadian Football League franchise pursues a pastime that's anything but violent.
A writer during his downtime, Baron's seen his effort reach fruition when one of his works, Just A Gobbler, was published by Mascot Books in Virginia. To say that Baron is gobsmacked over the fact that his 38-page tome aimed at young children will soon be on bookshelves is an understatement.
“It’s a published book," said Baron, who penned the story with his uncle James and another writer, Henry Taylor. "I’m a published author. I’m so excited and happy about it.”
The arrival of Just A Gobbler into the literary market is also a blessing to cover the disappoint he experienced earlier in November when Montreal failed to make the CFL playoffs. And at the very least, it's keeping his mind off his team's misfortune. Right after the Alouettes' final regular season game, Baron found himself in a church basement reading his work to an eager group of kids.
From the outset, the idea of a football player taking on the task of penning a children's book seems like an odd second occupation. But Baron deftly chose a topic that kids still trying to learn about the world around them seriously need to learn: how to tackle life.
Baron uses a football theme throughout his story, with the main character being Virginia Tech's endearing Hokie, the bird-like mascot at the Alouette player's alma mater. When the Hokie is preparing to take part in a talent show put on by his friends, he loses confidence in his repertoire once he finds out what everyone else is doing at the event.
To Baron, the story is about perseverance, self-esteem, and willpower, traits that came in handy when he was released from the NFL's Dallas Cowboys in 2017. He took a job as an Uber driver until he decided to head north, where he landed a position with Montreal.
It's no surprise that 25-year-old Baron went for such a young audience, as he considers himself to be in some ways a kid at heart. But he says that the essence of the book is something that's suitable for all ages.
"It’s a message that can reach everybody at different levels, myself included," he said. "There are so many things going on outside of your own peripheral that it’s easy to get distracted."