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Nick Bolton: ‘You pay your dues annually’ in football

The third year player spoke from the team’s offseason program on Monday.

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Two months following an epic comeback victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII, the Kansas City Chiefs began their voluntary offseason program on Monday.

For many participating players, Monday meant a return to the team's facility for conditioning. Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton is ready to return to work with his teammates.

"Just being around the guys — being around your brothers — some things you miss," he explained via a Zoom conference with media on Monday. "You don't really realize it until BOOM! — it's over with. And you've just got to spend a couple months by yourself. You miss those guys. So getting back in the building with those guys, it's fun. I'm excited to get back into the building."

It is easy to be excited to get back with teammates coming off of winning a title. The third-year pro knows that the championship season has passed — and it's time to move on to the challenge ahead.

"Football is an annual thing — you pay dues annually," the former Missouri Tiger stated. "So you've got to come out there the next year [and] you've just got to go out there and compete and try to get back and do the same thing again. That's a challenge we have: not being complacent and just working every day to get back to where we want to be."

Another challenge the Chiefs — like all NFL teams — face is annual roster turnover. While Bolton became an unquestioned leader in his second season, he will need to become even more of a voice in the locker room this season after the Chiefs released defensive end Frank Clark. He is up for the challenge.

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

"I think my leadership role is ever-evolving," Bolton claimed. "It's one of those things that keeps growing as we keep going. I'm loving it. I feel like that's a nice challenge going into this year. I'm trying to up my level of communication and leadership. That's one of the biggest things I know will be needed for this season."

To do so, he knows he needs to understand each member of the defense — including himself.

"I feel like first and foremost, it's understanding the person, understanding your teammates," Bolton explained. "Everybody's a little bit different. Everyone takes leadership a little differently. What gets them going — what motivates them — is a little bit different. Get to know your teammates. Figure out what makes them tick. After that, it's just trying to figure out how you can make the best version of yourself to get the best out of them.

"That's the thing I'm kind of evolving about. Understanding how to get the best out of me and what I can do. But also just trying to get the best out of the people around me — how I can get them emotionally invested in every week and every game and trying to get back to the end goal."

Reaching that end goal, of course, naturally means a shorter offseason to recover. On top of a long postseason, Bolton played 1119 of Kansas City's 1148 regular season defensive snaps. As he advances in his career, he knows to take a more methodical approach to managing his body, beginning with the two-week phase in period.

"Coming into the league, my first year, I worked out a bit earlier," he recalled. "Tried to get more field work done [and] agility-wise stuff. [I'm] just kind of transitioning. Long seasons — you've got to rest your body. Come in mentally fresh, physically fresh. I'm just kind of resting a little bit. When it's time to go, I'll kind of ramp it up a little bit and add more of the fine details.

"Technically, we have all the way technically until June and until we start training camp. So you're just trying to add to your stock until then — whether it be flexibility, IQ, watch a little tape, hanging out with your teammates. I've got quite a while until we get to the training camp part. I feel like the resting your body — being more mentally and physically fresh — is important.

"[Chiefs head coach Andy Reid] does a great job throughout the season kind of helping with that — and also gives us an extra two weeks off to get more fresh, as well."

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

As he begins his third season in Kansas City, a case can now be made that Bolton made the most outstanding defensive play in franchise history in the Super Bowl. In the second quarter, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts fumbled the ball, only to see Bolton return it 36 yards for a touchdown. At a point in the game, the Chiefs' offense was stagnant; the play was critical to keeping Kansas City in the game.

The league's second-leading tackler is ready to win another one.

"It's still a crazy experience — I'm still just trying to soak it in," he admitted. "It's one of those things that you keep watching it — and you still don't understand the magnitude of it. Especially me — it's only my second year. I guess ignorance is not a bad thing in terms of that...It makes you ready to go for next season."

"A lot of people talk about winning a Super Bowl — how addicting that emotion and that feeling is — you can't really explain it until you win one. There's also, you're always trying to get another one. That's kind of where my mindset is."

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