For Joey and Nick Bosa, the love of football is in their blood. The brothers grew up cheering for their favorite teams every week during the cherished fall season, but Nick’s earliest memories of the sport are the mementos sprinkled throughout his childhood home in Miami. They belonged to his father, former Miami Dolphins defensive end John Bosa, who played in the NFL for four years beginning in 1987.
Even with a lineage of athletes in the family (their uncle and cousin also went pro), the brothers showed a superior knack for the game that’s since propelled them from sunny South Florida into the wider world of professional football. At 25 and 23, respectively, Joey and Nick represent the NFL’s future. A defensive end for the Los Angeles Chargers, Joey is entering his fifth season and in August signed a five-year, $135-million contract extension,
making him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. Nick is gearing up for his second season as a defensive end with the San Francisco 49ers, after becoming a rookie sensation and playing in Super Bowl LIV.
The brothers’ rise to high-caliber play started early. “Nick was always a super football fan, even when he was really little,” recalls their mother, Cheryl Bosa, from her house on Fort Lauderdale Beach. When older brother Joey began playing, Nick took note. At 7 years old, he convinced his parents to let him play as well. “It was an easy thing for me to start doing and fall in love with,” says Nick.
In addition to football, the brothers dabbled in other sports, from soccer to baseball to basketball. Every step of the way, Cheryl and John offered their support. Cheryl notes that many people noticed their exceptional innate talent, especially Nick’s. “We’d be at the field and strangers would walk up to us and say, ‘What is going on here?’ [John and I] would be like, ‘We’re not quite sure. This is wacky.’”
Football eventually became the Bosa brothers’ focus once they started school at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, which has a national reputation for producing top athletes. “St. Thomas is a school where you don’t have too many multisport athletes, especially when they’re really focused on one or the other,” says Joey, who Cheryl describes as “intense” growing up. Nick, she points out, was the opposite. “Nick was always really funny. Goofy, silly, always making us laugh. He’s a funny guy. Not real serious.”
The two played on the varsity team for one year together. Nick, a freshman at the time, needed to put on weight and started seriously lifting weights in hopes of one day being recruited. Joey’s future in the NFL became a possibility when he received an offer from Alabama his sophomore year. “I was a backup on varsity, and I went to [Alabama’s] camp and really didn’t see myself as anything special out of the bunch there,” he says. He was one of two athletes who received an offer—a pivotal moment that opened up the option for additional college offers. “I went on to have a really good junior year. Right around then is when it turned into a job.”
Joey ultimately committed to playing football at The Ohio State University. Three years later, Nick followed in his footsteps, becoming a Buckeye and later forgoing his senior year to enter the NFL Draft. The Bosas made history in 2019 when the 49ers drafted Nick second overall, making them the only family in the history of the NFL to have three defensive linemen picked in the first round. (The Mannings, who are all quarterbacks, are the only clan with a similar accomplishment.)
Both Joey and Nick received the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. While Joey’s family celebrated in person in 2016, Nick was unable to attend the ceremony because he was preparing for Super Bowl LIV, which was hosted in Miami Gardens. Nick looks back on the event with mixed emotions. Added pressure and media attention prompted nerves for the first-time Super Bowler, who was playing in his hometown.
“The whole build-up part is not my favorite, but once you get out on the field, it’s just football, so it was a lot of fun to play and to have my family there watching me,” he says. “It didn’t turn out the way I wanted, but it was good motivation for the rest of my career.”
During playoffs, Cheryl attended two of Nick’s games with Joey, which she says was a “really cool” experience. The mother of two powerhouses has been spotted wearing a sewn-together jersey, with one half supporting the Chargers and the other repping the 49ers. “I’m on a plane every weekend. Usually when the schedule comes out, I set them up, side by side, and try to figure out my schedule. There are very few weekends that I don’t travel.”
The Bosa brothers both sport No. 97 in honor of their father, who now makes his living as an entrepreneur and resides in Fort Lauderdale and Colorado. Cheryl, who represents Engel & Völkers’ sports and entertainment division, has been living in Fort Lauderdale for the last 10 years following two decades in Miami. She handles luxury properties, including 30 Thirty North Ocean, where Nick recently closed on a two-story condo. The property, which will serve as home base for Nick in the off-season, features modern architecture, sprawling ocean views, large open terraces, and resort-style amenities, including a clubhouse lounge and a well-equipped fitness center. It’s also steps from the beach—a spot Nick looks forward to exploring.
With Joey close by, the brothers spent this summer training six days a week at their local facility, putting in the work needed to ensure a successful season. Sharing similar styles of play, they often look to one another for ways to improve. “I’m sure when Nicky sees me run a fast time or I see him run a fast time, it adds a little boost of motivation for the next round,” says Joey.
With Joey entering his fifth year in the NFL, he’s determined to pick up more wins. “At this point in my career, I kind of know what I’m going to do out there and hold myself to a really high standard,” he says. “But what’s important now is just winning and getting to the Super Bowl.” Rumors have swirled about a Bosa brothers’ reunion on the line following Super Bowl LIV, but that’s been squashed with Joey’s contract-extension signing that was captured on HBO’s Hard Knocks. “It would be a dream come true, but at the same time, it would be an interesting dynamic,” says Joey. “We’re both very competitive.”
For now, the Bosa brothers are living in the moment. “My goal is to get back to my teammates and go win the Super Bowl,” shares Nick, who in July was named No. 17 on the NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2020 list.
As for Cheryl, she’ll be cheering on her boys from the sidelines as she did in their early days of play. She often reflects on their long journey to becoming who they are today. “I think it’s really cool when what you love to do, you happen to be one of the best at it,” she says. “How many people get to say that? I love that for them. I’m very proud of them.”