Former Buffalo Bills wide receiver and kick returner Victor Bolden is adding a new chapter to a football career that once appeared stalled out.
Though he had not appeared in an NFL game since the 2018 season, Bolden jumped back on the radar last summer thanks to a breakout season in the USFL. He spent time last NFL season on the practice squads of the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos practice squad before being released by the Broncos last month, but now has another chance as he signed with the XFL’s Arlington Renegades.
Former Bills Speedster Jumps to XFL
Though he was a late addition to the XFL’s Renegades, joining midseason after his release by the Broncos, Bolden has already settled into his familiar role as a receiver and returned specialist. In two games, he has made three catches for 40 yards and returned one kick for 23 yards.
While Bolden is still growing into his role with the team, he has the endorsement of head coach Bob Stoops. The longtime Oklahoma Sooners coach told XFL News Hub that he was drawn in by Bolden’s big play ability.
“Just a guy that’s got really great speed, different style of player,” Stoops said, adding, “I think getting a little more speed on the field helps.”
Victor Bolden’s Path Back to Football
Bolden entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and appeared in 15 games over the next two years, including two with the Bills late in the 2018 season after being signed off the practice squad of the San Francisco 49ers. He had a limited role, returning five kicks for a 23.2-yard average.
But Bolden hit a major roadblock the next season when he was suspended four games for a performance-enhancing drug violation. Bolden took responsibility for the mistake and said he did not realize he was taking a banned substance.
“As a professional athlete, I take full responsibility for not verifying the ingredients of the supplement,” Bolden said. “In the future, I will be much better educated when choosing what to put in my body. It hurts to know that I will not be on the field with my team for the first four games of the season.”
While he had stints on the Detroit Lions practice squad over the following two seasons, Bolden never appeared in another NFL game after the suspension. He was out of football for close to a full year before joining the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions last year, where he had a breakout campaign. Bolden finished the season second in the league with 41 receptions, racking up 397 yards and a touchdown.
Bolden was a dual threat as he became one of the USFL’s most dangerous kick return specialists, adding 618 kick return yards and 176 punt return yards for a league-best 1,209 all-purpose yards. Bolden was named to the All-USFL team offense for his efforts.
Bolden saved his best game for last, helping to lead the Stallions to a league title while making six receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown in the championship game. He was named the game’s MVP.
Bolden has the chance to make another title run this season. As CBS Sports noted, the Renegades have the chance to play for the South Division Championship if they can defeat the Houston Roughnecks on Sunday.