Bending down and gripping a far-too-short putter, Joey Bosa kept trying his luck on the putting green inside the player’s lounge. He was killing time between partner sessions on the first day of the 22nd annual NFLPA Rookie Premiere, watching putts he thought were good come up short. The fact that he was there – putting, playing Madden and catching up with former Ohio State teammates – was not lost on him.
Bosa, the third overall pick in the April draft, is the lone defensive player in Los Angeles for the three-day event. But he’s entering the league at a prime time for defensive marketing stars – following on the heels of J.J. Watt, Von Miller and Richard Sherman, who have become the faces of the pro game. He sat down with NFLPA to talk about the unique position of being a defensive player trying to follow in the footsteps of some heavy (and hard) hitters:
NFLPA: What’s it like to essentially be carrying the flag for the other defensive guys?
Bosa: It’s cool that – out of everyone in the country – they picked me. All the great defensive players in this rookie class, Jalen (Ramsey) and Vernon (Hargreaves) and so many other guys and they picked me. I’m just happy to be out here, spending some time with my teammates.
NFLPA: Do defensive guys tend to get overlooked when it comes to star power?
Bosa: Maybe. There’s been a history of doing that, but guys like J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Richard Sherman – who are three of the biggest stars around. Von Miller, is probably like the best defensive player around, and nobody really talked about him until he won. But J.J. Watt is everywhere you turn. The guy is on television, Gatorade, Verizon and like 80 different commercials. He’s taken it to the next level. You’ve got to understand though, that offense sells tickets – but defense wins championships. So I think that’s not a bad approach for the next marketing superstar.
NFLPA: Has the success of those guys – especially in the last 2-3 years – helped pave the way for some opportunities for you?
Bosa: Von is a great example of how defense can single-handedly win a championship. But I think as long as you’re a personable guy – which I think I am sometimes – it’s going to work out. J.J. Watt is a perfect human pretty much. He’s definitely paving the way for defensive guys to make their faces more known on the marketing side.
NFLPA: Have you gotten any advice from guys in the league about the business side?
Bosa: Not really, I think you just look at those guys as examples of what can be done. I’m still getting my feet wet in the business side of things, relying on my agents and the people at the NFLPA to help educate me.
NFLPA: They didn’t have Rookie Premiere when your dad was drafted. Is he jealous?
Bosa: I honestly don’t think he can wrap his head around it. I’m still focused on playing and winning games for the Chargers, but I’m learning all the stuff that comes with it. I do realize that I’m blessed to have this opportunity to maybe make me the face of their brand. It means a lot. If a brand decides to pick you and maybe use your face in a campaign, it obviously says a lot about what you’ve done and how you’ve carried yourself. Again, it’s a huge honor.