ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – Denver Broncos rookie Omar Bolden considers himself a budding cornerback and CEO.
To think, an injury on the field led him to become an inspirational entrepreneur off it.
Bolden tore the ACL in his left knee during spring practice at Arizona State in 2011. There went another season.
Usually such an affable and upbeat person, Bolden slipped into a funk over the prospect of sitting out again. Soon, those feelings turned into a vision as he hit on an idea: What can he do to brighten someone’s day?
Like that, he created a “Positive Living” movement. He began a website touting the benefits of optimistic thinking and designed elastic bracelets. He also sends out uplifting messages.
With that venture taking off, he’s now eager to begin his other business: Being a shutdown cornerback for the Broncos.
The team drafted him in the fourth round, believing they received a steal of a deal as he slipped down the board due to his injury-filled past. In addition to missing last season, Bolden also sat out a bulk of the 2009 season after tweaking the MCL in his right knee.
No matter where he was picked, he’s here now. And that’s all he cares about.
The power of positive thought at work.
“It’s good to be back on the field, just competing again,” said Bolden, who participated in a three-day rookie minicamp that concluded Sunday. “Just to have the opportunity to be out here and play in the NFL and for the Broncos, it’s an amazing opportunity.”
When healthy, Bolden was a standout defensive back for the Sun Devils. He had three interceptions and broke up seven passes in 2010, giving a glimpse of what he could do.
Even when he wasn’t healthy, Bolden was still a contributor. Last season, he was a voted captain in part because of his energizing and engaging attitude.
“I stayed involved. I traveled to every game, went to every practice, went to every meeting,” Bolden said. “I played my part. But it was just hard to watch.”
About that time, he began hatching his idea of inspiring others. It was his way of keeping from tumbling into a melancholy.
“I’ve seen many of my friends go through the same injury and distance themselves from everything, from football and friends,” Bolden said. “I didn’t want to go down that road. I learned from their experiences.”
His website, which was launched earlier this year, has a mission statement that counts this as its principle tenet: “It is about making the decision to be a positive impact on the lives of the people you are around on a daily basis. A family member, friend, co-worker or even a stranger. You have the ability to affect people’s lives with a simple action. Let that action be positive. Life is too important to let opportunities slip by.”
That edict now empowers Bolden.
“I’ve always been a positive, high-energy guy,” said Bolden, who finished up his degree last spring. “I just have a tight circle of close friends and we’re real big on positive energy. It kind of just started as `Live positive. Live positive.’ We turned it into `Positive Living.’ Then, we started tweeting about it.
“Before you know it, a lot of people were just catching on and it turned into a movement. It wasn’t planned, it just happened like that.”
He’s also taking care of business on the field, too. The early impressions of Bolden have been nothing but favorable.
“He had a good camp,” coach John Fox said. “I thought he played well and he reacted to our install very well. He has good football awareness and football intelligence. It’s just a matter of learning to compete at this level at a consistent basis and I believe he can do that.”
Bolden can’t wait until the entire team shows up and he has a chance to pick up pointers from perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey. The Broncos also have veterans Drayton Florence and Tracy Porter for Bolden to lean on as well.
“They’ve been around for a long time. There’s a reason why they’re still here,” said Bolden, who no longer wears a protective knee brace. “Seven-to-10 years later, I want to be one of those guys that are still around. I’m just going to do my best to stick in their pocket, stick in their ear and learn as best as I can.”
With such an abundance of defensive backs, Bolden’s role in the upcoming season may be in special packages on defense or possibly as a special teams contributor. He was a returner at Arizona State, even bringing back a kick 97 yards against Wisconsin in 2010.
Willing to slip into that role again?
“If they give me the opportunity, yes, I’m going to take it and run full speed with it,” Bolden said.
Bolden is surrounded by quite an ASU support system with quarterback Brock Osweiler being drafted by the Broncos in the second round and receiver Gerell Robinson coming on board as a college free agent.
“It’s always good to come in with somebody you know,” Bolden said. “Obviously, you come in with a class full of rookies and everybody’s going through the same thing. But when you can look to your right or to your left and know that you’ve been through similar situations like this for the past three-to-four years with guys that you kind of consider as your brothers, it helps.
“It makes it a little easier to transition to the NFL.”
Notes: Broncos coach John Fox will ride in an F-16 with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds on May 21. “I didn’t realize exactly it was that intense when I first signed up,” he said, laughing. “But, I’m looking forward to it. I have great respect for our military and it’s a great opportunity to hang out with some of those guys.”
By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer
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