Nate Boyer is a former Army Green Beret and NFL longsnapper who taught himself how to play football during his time overseas in the military. Though he never played football in high school, Boyer ultimately became the starting longsnapper for the University of Texas Longhorns after his time in the military and parlayed that into a stint with the Seattle Seahawks. He was an influential part of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel out of respect in protest during the National Anthem instead of sit on the bench, and currently runs a program with Jay Glazer called “MVP — Merging Players & Vets.”
We caught up with Nate for this week’s Friday Five…
Editor’s Note: Find the Extended Version of Nate Boyer’s Friday Five Answers on The 33rd Team Youtube Channel
You’ve done so much. What title should we even use to introduce you?
Human being, how about that?
That’s a tough one, because a lot of what we talk about with MVP and what I like to talk about is that association with identity—who you are. I spent some time in the military. I was an athlete. It was a short time, but I played at a very high level. I don’t see myself as just a veteran or just an athlete or even as a filmmaker—I’m doing that right now. There’s a lot of conversations these days about purpose. I think that should help formulate your title. My purpose is just to love and to love other people.
Who has been your biggest mentor?
I’ve definitely had a lot of them. I would have to say my dad, probably. Not trying to shortchange my mom at all. My mom’s the brains of the operation. My dad will admit to that. But he’s a very passionate guy. He’s got big, big dreams and ideas and things like that. Both of them have just been so supportive from the beginning. Even when they think I’m crazy for doing something or trying something. They never shouted down. They just were like, “You know what? Sure. Go for it.”
You had a pretty fascinating conversation with Colin Kaepernick. When you reflect on that, what’s the part that stands out to you?
As far as my involvement, definitely the gratitude that I was included in the conversation and that I was asked from a veteran perspective. I’ve said this time and time again, and it’s so true, I do not speak for the veteran community, or anybody except myself. What stood out to me in that moment was that, regardless of what we agreed on, that Kaepernick would reach out to me just based on an open letter that I wrote…
I think the openness from him and the willingness to listen to somebody else’s perspective and to be open minded in that moment. Like I said, we don’t agree on everything. I am not on board with everything he’s said and done since then. I guarantee the same goes for me, and that’s totally fine. We don’t need to. We shouldn’t, actually. That’s why America is great, because we have all this different opinion of thought, and we hold each other accountable. When we bring in people with different perspectives on a very complicated issue, what we’re working towards—hopefully—is the place where everybody feels like they’re a part of that conversation
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t worry about what everybody else thinks and says so much. It doesn’t matter, and most of the people that are giving you a hard time are never going to try anything. The ones that make you feel small or inadequate, that is because that’s how they feel. It’s hard to know that when you’re in it. Even an older self needs to take yourself out of that. That’s why you need mentors. You need people that have your back and will talk to you in those moments and let you know, “hey, don’t take this personally.” That’s the biggest thing because I think I shortchanged myself a lot because I was just so worried of what everybody else thought or felt.
If you could invite any three people in history to dinner, who would they be, and why?
You know what? Just because this would be a super interesting conversation…I’m going to go with Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha. How about that? I think that would be a very interesting conversation. I would love to hear it. I’d love to be a fly on that wall.