New England Patriots veteran Brandon Bolden was left watching the 2020 NFL campaign from home after opting out due to COVID-19 precautions.
And Bolden, 31, missed just about everything that he came to appreciate during his eight-year career, seven of which came in New England.
“I opted out for health reasons but had a great time with my kids, was a dad for a year so that was different,” Bolden said Monday after the Patriots training camp practice, per the team. “But it’s great to be back out here with the guys. I just had to let them know the first day back, I missed them all — even Bill (Belichick). Yeah, me and him had a little heart-to-heart when I got back.
“It’s been great. It’s been fun getting back into the swing of things, just break a sweat and chasing other grown men instead of kids all day.”
Bolden expressed how he and Belichick had stayed in touch despite being away from Gillette Stadium.
“Me and him stayed in contact. We texted every now and then, but just being around the guys in the locker room and stuff like that. You miss stuff like that when you are away,” Bolden said.
“… Me and (Belichick) talked pretty much since the time I told him I was making the decision to opt out. Me and him stayed in contact with each other. He knew how I felt about the situation. He knew how I felt about coming back. He told me how he felt about me coming back.”
Still, Bolden noted it was different and expressed how he missed out on the game-day feel in addition to the camaraderie.
“It sucks. It was bad,” Bolden said. “I tried to keep my same schedule because I know if it’s a 1 o’clock game I know I have to be up at 8 o’clock. So I’m up at 8 (a.m.) fixing breakfast. And it was like, ‘Hey, shut up and sit down, we’re watching the game.’ So me and the kids had a great time. It was still fun.
“I was able to watch the game. I was into it. I knew what was going on. I could hear the calls on TV and I was able to text the guys like, ‘Hey, this is what this sounds like.’ So it was like an extra set of eyes. But we don’t get to talk about it until after the game. So, stuff like that, I was still able to be part of the team just not with the team.”
Bolden now is back with the team, heading into the ninth season of his NFL career and eighth with the Patriots. His new perspective is sure to have him not taking this one for granted.