ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Nasty teddybear—it sounds like an oxymoron or something out of a horror movie, but in fact, it’s the personality of the Broncos’ newest first-round pick, Garett Bolles.
The Utah native never lacked athletic ability, yet he didn't live up to his football potential until 2016—when he played his sole season at the University of Utah. The reason? He lacked a major component in his life: love.
He didn’t find that love he needed to succeed in life, on or off the field, until he was 17 years old. Now, just seven years later, Bolles is shaped by the love he was given by his adopted family off the field, while maintaining a different personality on the field.
On the field, Bolles uses words such as “nasty, aggressive, mean and prick” to describe himself, while the words he uses to describe himself off the field couldn’t be more different: teddy bear, father, husband, lover, crier and emotional.
Bolles’ life took the turning point it needed when his biological father, Grove, kicked him out of his house in August 2011. Not even half an hour later, Bolles’ high school lacrosse coach, Greg Freeman, called his wife, Emily, to ask her permission to bring the lost teen into their home. After asking for the Lord's guidance in prayer, Emily and Greg not only put a roof over Bolles’ head, they gave him the structure and love he so desperately needed.
“Love, that’s what I needed,” Bolles said as he was introduced to the media on Friday. “Over the years my dad and I, we were going through a tough time, my biological dad Grove, and we were going through a rough time. He was lost, and I was lost. We just bashed heads all of the time. It was the right thing for him to do to kick me out of the house. The good Lord brought the Freeman family into my life. Without them, I wouldn’t be here.”
Along with the Freeman family, the Broncos added Garett’s wife, Natalie, and son, Kingston. Garett has three components in his life: family, faith and football, in that order.
“I’ve always been a lover, man. My mom, my beautiful wife they taught me how to love,” he said. “I put my family first in everything that I do…I want to be a great father.”
While the nasty and the teddy bear typically don’t overlap, his two mentalities do occasionally blend.
“I don’t mess around. I’m a husband; I’m a father. You don't have to worry with me on the off-field issues,” he said. “I take care of business on and off the field, and you are going to see that when I come here. I’m going to work hard; I’m going to be the first one here and the last one off the field in everything that I do, because that’s the type of player that I am.”
Bolles’ proclamations of love for Mr. Elway on Thursday night and Friday kept a constant grin on Elway’s face. However, it wasn’t his flattery that convinced the general manager to use his No. 20 overall pick on the tackle; it was a promise.
“I came in here and made a promise to [Elway] that I won’t get pushed around up front. I want to make sure that I push those guys around,” Bolles said. “I’m just going to be that nasty prick that those guys love up front and continue to move forward and knock those dudes in the dirt…I’m just an aggressive person. I just go to the whistle, that’s how I was taught as a little kid.”
It’s hard to believe that the nasty, aggressive guy on the field is the same person as the one that unapologetically says, “I’m a big teddy bear, so you are going to hear me cry a lot.”
The newest Bronco accepts that he’s a crier. However, don’t call him that on the field.