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Football Memories: Brandon Bolden
We sat down with running back Brandon Bolden to talk about some of his earliest and most unforgettable football memories. Bolden joined the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Mississippi in 2012. A native of Baton Rouge, La., Bolden has averaged 4.9 yards per carry in his first two seasons with the team.
Q: What do you love about football?
BB: What I love about the game of football is it gives you a chance to be a kid all over again. You get to wake up and do the thing you want to do – your favorite thing of all-time – go out there and play football with your best friends. That’s pretty much what I’ve developed on this team, is best friends and going out there and playing with them.
Q: Is playing professional football different than when you played football as a kid?
BB: Playing football in the pros is a little different than playing as a kid. In the pros, it’s a job. As a kid, it was just an excuse to get out of the house. As far as the job goes, we wake up every morning, we come to work, we do what we have to do. But on game day, that’s the day where you’re being a kid all over again. It’s an excuse to get out of the house and have fun.
Q: What was it like when you walked out when you were nine years old and what’s it like when you walk out there today?
BB: To this day, I don’t see a big difference between walking out at the age of nine to being 23 and walking out to a professional stadium. It’s still the anxiety of what the other team is going to bring; it’s the excitement of playing in front of your friends and family, playing with your brothers against the enemy across the field. It’s the same butterfly feeling you get as a kid, I still get to this day.
Q: What’s your first football memory?
BB: I was about nine, I was playing Pee Wee football and I was the biggest kid on the team and I hadn’t played all season because I was two or three pounds overweight. One day, I went, weighed in early and was one pound over. I went and ran the one pound off, played in that game. My first play, I knocked the kid [down] but I ripped a hole in the sole of my shoe. So, I stepped and hit him so hard to where I pressed through my shoe and we duct taped my shoe back together and I finished playing the game. I still have the shoes; they’re framed.
Q: Who was most influential in your decision to play football?
BB: The most influential person in me playing football would have to be my grandfather, Frank Pitts. Since I started playing sports, he always stayed on me to play football, even though I was too big to play. I started off with baseball but when I finally got to high school, he stayed on me, ‘Just go out there and give it a try.’ I went out the first day and made the varsity team. He stayed on me to stay on the team and stay right. He played in two Super Bowls [with the Chiefs]. He played in Super Bowl I and lost to the Green Bay Packers. He played in Super Bowl IV against the Minnesota Vikings and they won. He kind of used those as motivation for me and that’s how I look at them too. Those two rings symbolize greatness in my book, and I want to be great just like him.
BB: Football has changed my life by teaching me to be accountable and responsible for all the things I have. It helped me become a better person and it helped me become a better man and it’s just the game of football. Before football, I wasn’t the most out-of-order kid, but I needed some help, some direction. Football gave me a chance to find myself and see what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Right now, I’m doing what I like.
Q: When did you know you could play professionally?
BB: When I decided I could play football professionally, it was my sophomore year in high school. We’d just played our first playoff game and I rushed for 270-something yards. My dad just walked into my room, he congratulated me and he said, ‘What are you going to do for the rest of your life?’ I didn’t answer him right away so he walked out of the room and about 15 minutes later he came back and said, ‘Do you have an answer?’ I said, ‘I want to play football.’ He told me the only way to do that is to stay on your grades and work on your craft every day.
Q: Who did you try to emulate as a kid?
BB: That’s a tough one because when I was growing up Ricky Williams was a big thing. Of course, everybody was trying to be Barry Sanders but I’m way too big to try to be Barry. Deuce McAllister, just a lot of guys that played for the Saints, like the running backs for the Saints when I was little; even Kevin Faulk and some of the older guys at LSU, that’s who everybody wanted to be like. But for me, I would have to say it would be Walter Payton. From my grandfather playing so long ago and a little bit after that, here comes Walter. He had the best career ever. It was just something to kind of look at and give you how high you need to set your bar and that’s where my bar is set.
Q: Did you ever want to play defense?
BB: Funny story. When I first got to high school, I’d never played football before and the coach asked me what position I wanted to play. I told him, ‘I have no idea.’ He said, ‘Let’s try you at linebacker.’ The first day with pads, I knock out the varsity running back. They said, ‘You’ve become the starting linebacker.’ I was 190 pounds toward the end of the season, so it was like, ‘OK, you’re not the biggest linebacker so you can play safety.’ My sophomore year I played safety and running back. My junior year, I played safety, linebacker and running back. My senior year, I never left the field – I was the kicker, the punter, everything. So coming out of high school, LSU comes to my school and tells me, ‘We want to offer you a scholarship but we’re going to offer you at safety.’ Same thing Alabama said, same thing Baylor said. I didn’t want to play defense anymore. I decided I just wanted to keep the ball in my hands and stay on the field as much as possible, so I picked running back.