When Brandon Bolden arrived in the NFL as an undrafted rookie signing by the New England Patriots in 2012, he picked the No. 38 jersey as his own — a number that served him well. Not only did Bolden make the 53-man roster as a rotational running back and special teamer, he also established himself as a valuable presence on the team.
Over the years that followed, Bolden appeared in 98 regular season games and 16 playoff contests for the Patriots. He also won two Super Bowl rings, all while donning No. 38. He even kept the number when he left New England to join the Miami Dolphins for one season in 2018.
Heading into his 10th season in the league, however, Bolden has announced that he would change jersey numbers for the first time in his career. Instead of wearing the familiar No. 38, he will be moving forward as New England’s No. 25.
The reason behind the move is a sentimental one: as Bolden announced on social media, the new number is a nod to his grandfather, Frank Pitts, who wore it during his time as a pro football player
“So yesterday I was asked ‘Why did I change my number?’ Well, long story short my grandfather wore it for 11 years and I thought it would be best that he at least saw his oldest grandson play in the same number he played in, even though it’s the NFL now and not the AFL he remembers,” Bolden wrote on his Instagram account.
Pitts wore No. 25 for most of his 10-year career in the AFL and NFL. A former wide receiver, he was part of the Kansas City Chiefs team that won Super Bowl V. Pitts later also spent time with the Cleveland Browns and the Oakland Raiders before retiring after the 1974 season, finishing his career with a combined 203 touches in 137 regular season and playoff games.
“He’s part of the reason why I started playing football in the first place,” Bolden said about his grandfather in 2013.
Now, he is honoring him by wearing his former jersey number — albeit in different team colors.