Wearing his brand-new 54 jersey — the same number worn by Damien Wilson in 2020 — new Kansas City Chiefs rookie linebacker Nick Bolton met virtually with the media on Friday during the first day of the team’s rookie minicamp. He said it “means a lot” to wear that Chiefs jersey.
“[It’s a] world-class organization,” said the former Missouri linebacker. “These guys have been winning for a while. They did it before I even got here. Being in Missouri, watching these guys go out there and compete at a high level week-in and week-out — play good defense, play good special teams and be good on offense — it’s a blessing to be here.”
Bolton presented himself as a humble player — one who cares about the relationships he builds with his teammates. This was clearest when he was asked about what he had accomplished with the Tigers.
“I’ve been around the group that came in with us — working with those guys every single day — and it was a blessing,” he recalled. “Life-long friendships with those guys. Those guys I call in and check on almost every day. So as I look back on it, that’s probably the biggest accomplishment: I’ve been around those guys, helping those guys try to get to their end goal as well.”
Now that he’s reached his own goal, Bolton said he’s already working on building relationships with his new teammates — some of whom he already knew from playing against them in college.
“I’m building a bond with those guys; I talk to them,” he said. “We all have the same spot. A couple of linebackers that came in, I’m kind of building a relationship with those guys as well. I also played against a couple of guys — a couple of Georgia guys, Tennessee’s Trey Smith — so I kind of played with those guys.”
And he has already spent a fair amount of time communicating with veteran Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens.
“I talked to Hitch — that’s one of my guys,” he explained. “He was actually down in Dallas when I was down there. I texted him quite a bit; we talked a lot. I’m looking forward to building a relationship.”
But Bolton already had a very good relationship with a member of the Chiefs’ staff: former Missouri coach (and now Kansas City assistant special-teams coach) Andy Hill.
“I had the blessing of having coach Hill as a coach for two years [during] my freshman and sophomore season at Missouri,” noted Bolton, “so he kind of vouched for me — probably a lot — being from down the street and being able to coach me. I appreciate him for that. But since I got here, he’s kind of welcomed me in and tried to teach me a little bit about special teams — as much as I can — trying to learn as much as I can from him to put myself in a position to help us on special teams.”
Bolton — who has generated a lot of ink because of his aggressive playing style — came off as a smart player who is focused not on his own success, but rather on doing what he can to help his new team. He flatly denied he had something to prove during the weekend’s minicamp.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “I’m just trying to grow and learn the playbook. I’m not really trying to prove anything — just soak everything up and learn the basic fundamentals: how to practice and how to become a Kansas City Chief.”