Anquan Boldin: One of NFL’s greats on and off football field
PHOENIX (BVM) – Playing next to Larry Fitzgerald brought its own set of challenges as the longtime NFL wide receiver overshadowed the play of many of his past teammates. But for Anquan Boldin, the 14-year NFL vet made sure his star shined just as bright during the pair’s time together as Boldin solidified himself as one of the most consistent players over the past decade.
During his seven seasons in Arizona, and seven elsewhere, the former NFL wideout achieved some of the league’s major individual and team milestones. Behind his Super Bowl championship in 2013 and Walter Payton Man of the Year honor in 2015, Boldin became one of the most underrated wideouts both on the field, and off of it as well. With his time spent helping others, Boldin’s work off the field has become even more impressive than his numbers on it.
Anquan Boldin’s early life, high school and college career
Growing up in Pahokee, Florida, Boldin’s standout play on the football field didn’t come as a wide receiver. Featuring as a three-sport athlete at the school, Boldin became one of the top players in the state during his time playing quarterback. The Blue Devils senior helped the program to a 10-0 record his final year earning him named Florida’s Mr. Football and Florida Player of the Year in 1998.
Keeping the homegrown talent in-state was an important task for the Florida State football program, who had made sure to make a run at the Pahokee star. With Chris Weinke set to lead the Seminoles quarterback position, Boldin decided to convert to a wide receiver at Florida State instead of waiting for his opportunity as the team’s signal caller.
Anquan Boldin had never played WR in his LIFE before making the switch at FSU..
He's now one of the best to ever do it at the WR position @AnquanBoldin 🙌 pic.twitter.com/4YE65KubIE
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) February 2, 2022
As he ramped up to a breakout senior season, Boldin secured 779 yards and eight touchdowns his first two seasons and racked up 13 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards receiving as a senior. The impressive collegiate resume had Boldin primed to be a top pick in the NFL draft.
Anquan Boldin’s NFL career
After running a relatively slow 40-yard dash time for a wide receiver at 4.7 seconds during the NFL Combine, Boldin saw his name slip down the draft boards. With the 54th overall selection in the 2003 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals drafted the falling 22-year-old to bolster a unit lacking elite talent.
Coming into the season as the team’s No. 1 wideout, Boldin took advantage of all the opportunities thrown his way throughout his rookie year, securing 101 catches for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns. The surprising breakout wouldn’t correlate to a positive team record but Boldin’s individual play landed him Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and a Pro Bowl selection.
.@AnquanBoldin’s NFL debut? 10 catches, 217 yards, 2 touchdowns 😱 (Sept. 7, 2003)
📺: #DETvsAZ — Sunday 4:25pm ET on FOX
📱: NFL App // Yahoo Sports App pic.twitter.com/uitxlkj4f3
— NFL Legacy (@NFLLegacy) September 25, 2020
The following year, the Cardinals paired the rising threat with Fitzgerald, after selecting him with the third overall pick in 2004. The duo would go on to dominate opposing secondaries for the next six seasons as the team reached its pinnacle during the 2007 campaign. Behind 1,000-yard receiving seasons from Boldin, Fitzgerald, and Steve Breaston, the Cardinals entered the playoffs with a 9-7 record. The team’s standout offense would get hot at the perfect time as Boldin and Arizona made their way past the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and Philadelphia Eagles.
As the team moved into a matchup in Super Bowl XLIII against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cardinals offense shined as Boldin secured eight catches for 84 yards. Even with the effort, Boldin was unable to secure his first Super Bowl title in a 27-23 loss.
Boldin continued his dominance following the Super Bowl appearance, finishing his Cardinals career with another 1,000-yard campaign during the 2009 season. The final year with the team would lead Boldin into a three-year stint with the Baltimore Ravens, where the veteran wideout would be able to capture the elusive Super Bowl win, going for 104 yards and a touchdown in the team’s Super Bowl XLVII victory.
The recent Super Bowl champion would go on to finish his NFL career following three seasons in San Francisco and one final year in Detroit. With the 49ers, Boldin racked up over 3,000 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns helping the team to a near Super Bowl appearance in 2013.
Following his one season with the Detroit Lions, Boldin would call it a career in 2017, as he looked to use his platform to continue his humanitarian work.
Anquan Boldin’s personal life, work off the field
Boldin was the poster child for work outside the game of football during his time in the NFL, earning him the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2015. The former NFL wide receiver continues to give back and has used his foundation, Q81, to impact communities for nearly 20 years. Boldin’s foundation has mentored more than 400 high school students from his home state of Florida as they successfully complete course forgiveness prior to graduation. During 2014, Boldin and his wife Dionne, funded a million dollar endowment in hopes of helping underserved students. His work with the foundation has continued to raise money as Anquan looks to do all he can to give back.
Along with his time in the community, Anquan has stayed busy as father to his two kids Ashton, and Anquan Jr., who currently plays basketball at IMG Academy in Florida.
Anquan Boldin’s Hall of Fame case
The long-time NFL wide receiver created quite the case for himself throughout his 14-year NFL career as a seven-time 1,000-yard receiver and three-time Pro Bowl selection. His 101 catches his opening year was a rookie record until the 2021 season when Jaylen Waddle topped it by securing 104 catches on the year. His 1,377 yards in the same campaign put him in fourth on the all-time rookie receiving yards list.
Anquan totaled 1,076 career receptions and 13,779 receiving yards throughout his entire career, putting him 14th on the career receiving list and ninth all-time in career receptions. With his first year on the ballot in 2022, it could be a short wait for the former Super Bowl champion to see his bust in Canton.