Nick Bosa and Joey Bosa: Everything to Know About the NFL Brothers

Joey Bosa and Nick Bosa are both top defensive players in the NFL

Nick and Joey Bosa
Photo: Nick Bosa Instagram

There are several sets of brothers in the NFL, but according to San Francisco 49er Nick Bosa, there are no better siblings playing professional football than him and his big brother, Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers.

During Super Bowl LIV media day in 2020, Nick was asked who were the best brothers in the NFL. He answered with one word: "Bosas."

And his assessment isn't far from the truth. Joey became one of the highest-paid defensive players in the NFL in 2020 when he signed a five-year, $135-million contract extension with the Chargers. Nick is expected to surpass that record as he awaits his contract extension from the 49ers in 2023.

The brothers, who have nicknamed each other Big Bear and Smaller Bear, are virtually identical in talents and in size. Joey is 6'4" and 270 pounds; his little brother is an inch taller and the same weight, according to Sports Illustrated. They each spent three years playing college football, were drafted to the NFL as a top pick and play defense for their respective teams.

"It's hard to explain, but everything we do looks the same," Nick told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2019. "The moves we use, the way we run, the way we walk, the way we stand. Everything just looks similar."

Even their parents are stunned at their joint success. "It's a genetic phenomenon," their mother, Cheryl Bosa, told the Chronicle. "To have two kids playing at this level, that's crazy."

From their football lineage to playing in the NFL, here is everything to know about the Bosa brothers, Joey and Nick.

They come from a football family

Nick Bosa commits to Ohio State with his family; father John Bosa, Nick, mother Cherly and Joey, who plays for Ohio State, on National Signing Day at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fl, Feb. 3, 2016
Charles Trainor, Jr./Miami Herald/Tribune News Service/Getty

When it comes to the Bosa brothers, football is in their blood. The football talents in the family date back two generations: Their mother's biological father Palmer Pyle played for three different NFL teams in the 1960s, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Pyle's brother Mike played nine seasons with the Chicago Bears and won a Super Bowl, according to Sports Illustrated.

Nick and Joey's father, John Bosa, was also a professional football player: He played defensive end for Boston College before being drafted in the first round (16th overall) in 1987 by the Miami Dolphins. The following year, their mother's brother, Eric Kumerow, was also drafted 16th overall by Miami. Eric's son (and Nick and Joey's cousin) Jake Kumerow currently plays for the Buffalo Bills as a wide receiver.

"We've got good genes, man. Good genes," Nick said in an interview at the 2019 NFL Draft.

Nick and Joey grew up in South Florida

Nick and Joey Bosa family
Nick Bosa Instagram

John's career in the NFL ended after three seasons due to injuries. In 1993, he wed Cheryl and the two settled in South Florida, according to Sports Illustrated. On July 11, 1995, they welcomed their first son, Joseph Anthony Bosa. Just over two years later, on Oct. 23, 1997, younger brother Nicholas John was born. But despite having such deep family ties to football, Cheryl and John wanted their boys to play other sports growing up, like baseball, soccer, tennis or golf, Sports Illustrated reported.

"I tried to keep them away from football as long as I could," John told SI. But the boys reportedly begged to play, with Nick even claiming, "If you don't let me play too, I'm going to die." By the time Nick was 7 and Joey was 9, both were playing the sport.

It wasn't long before the boys were hooked on football. The family moved from Miami to Fort Lauderdale so Nick and Joey could attend St. Thomas Aquinas High School, a school known for producing top athletes, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Throughout high school, John would wake them up at 5 a.m. for breakfast and their morning workout — with no complaints, according to John.

"Ultimately, they're just really good," John told SI about his sons' love for the sport. "When you have the genetic gifts they had ... they just loved it. It's a lot of fun to knock the crap out of people."

They both played football at Ohio State

Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa
Jamie Sabau/Getty ; Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire/Getty

By his senior year of high school, Joey was one of the top defensive players in the country, according to NBC Sports — and ultimately decided to play at Ohio State University (his mother's alma mater) after Urban Meyer became the head coach in 2012.

"I said, 'You know what, if Coach Meyer ends up getting the job, I'll take a look.' He ended up getting the job and they went 12-0 that next year," Joey told FOX College Football about his decision to attend Ohio State. "I watched every game and became a huge fan. Then, once I took that first visit I knew what the answer was."

Nick benefited from his big brother attending Ohio State: He would visit and learn techniques from Joey and his defensive line coach, Larry Johnson. "Nick was getting some really good coaching early," John told NBC Sports. And when Joey entered the NFL draft after his junior year, Nick filled his shoes as an incoming freshman — even picking his brother's same number, 97.

"He's got the tools to be really special," Johnson told Sports Illustrated about Nick in 2017.

Joey and Nick were each drafted in the top 3

Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa
Tom Lynn/Sports Illustrated/Getty ; Andy Lyons/Getty

Both Joey and Nick were one of the first three picks in their NFL Drafts: In 2016, the San Diego Chargers selected Joey third overall following his junior season at Ohio State. Three years later, in 2019, Nick was selected second overall (also after his junior year) by the San Francisco 49ers. With the 49ers pick, the Bosas made history — becoming the only family in NFL history to have three defensive linemen picked in the first round, according to Fort Lauderdale Illustrated.

The Bosa brothers also had similar success in their first seasons in the NFL. Despite missing the first four weeks of the season due to a hamstring injury, Joey still tallied 10.5 sacks and earned the 2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. In 2019, Nick recorded nine sacks for the 49ers and won the same award that his big brother did three years earlier. Nick also made it to the Super Bowl with the 49ers in his rookie season but lost to the Kansas City Chiefs.

"Every time I think I'm better than him at something, he just flies right by me," Joey told Sports Illustrated about his little brother. "We are obsessed with what we love, and what we love is football and our craft."

Their great-grandfather was a mob boss

American mob boss Tony Accardo
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty

Joey and Nick don't only count football players as their relatives — they also have a notable mafia member in their family tree. Their maternal great-grandfather was Tony Accardo, who was better known in the mob by his nickname Joey Batters, according to Sports Illustrated.

Accardo reportedly began his career in organized crime as a bodyguard for Al Capone in the 1920s. By the 1940s, Accardo had risen through the ranks to become the head of the Chicago mafia and Capone's second-in-command. At one point, he was ranked No. 2 on Fortune magazine's ranking of American gangsters, Sports Illustrated reported.

When Joey and Nick's uncle, Eric Kumerow, was drafted in 1988 by the Miami Dolphins, a reporter asked him about his grandfather's mob connections. "To me, he's just my grandfather, and I love him," Kumerow replied. "He's a great man, a caring man. I remember him coming to ball games and being with us. I never had an opinion when I would see articles in the paper. I don't believe them. Half of what you read in the paper isn't true."

Accardo died in 1992 before Joey and Nick were born. The brothers rarely speak publicly about their infamous great-grandfather, with Nick telling a TMZ reporter in 2016, "that's not something I should really be talking about." Although he called his great-grandfather an "undercover legend."

They both wear No. 97

Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers runs onto the field prior to the start of the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi's Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Santa Clara, California
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty

The Bosa boys have each worn No. 97 since their Ohio State days. John, their father, wore No. 97 when he played at Boston College and during his time on the Miami Dolphins, according to Sports Illustrated. When Joey joined the Ohio State Buckeyes, he sported the same number until he entered the NFL draft three years later. And when Joey left, Nick stepped into Joey's old jersey, wearing No. 97 during his three years at Ohio State, as well.

When Joey was first drafted by the Chargers in 2016, he had to change jersey numbers to 99, as 97 was already taken. However, in 2019, he was able to switch back to No. 97. "It's just a cool tradition. I'd like to keep it going," Joey told USA Today.

The same year, Nick was drafted by the 49ers. He was able to select No. 97, as well, just like his father and big brother.

They're each other's best friend

Nick and Joey Bosa
Nick Bosa Instagram

Though they play for different teams, Nick and Joey are best friends and speak daily. Nick "is one of very few people I can be my true self around," Joey told Sports Illustrated in 2017. "Maybe the only person. I feel like he's just another piece of me."

But that wasn't always the case for the Bosa boys. Growing up, the brothers would often compete fiercely in backyard games, from the trampoline to pool basketball, they told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I was a total a------," Joey said about growing up with Nick. "I would just beat him up if I lost. It probably toughened him up, for sure."

It was football, though, that would eventually bring the boys closer. In 2012, the two were both on the varsity football team at St. Thomas Aquinas — Nick as a freshman and Joey as a senior. The team went on to win the Florida state championship that year, an impressive accomplishment for the team and a major moment for the brothers' friendship.

"Their relationship was this turning point where they went from Nick being the annoying little brother to being best friends," Cheryl told NBC Sports. "It was night and day, like flipping a switch … It was really, really cool. Since then, honestly, I don't think I've seen them get in an argument."

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