It would make for a better story if Tre Boston chose to sign with the Chargers in part because the franchise’s move from San Diego to Los Angeles, the so-called “entertainment capital of the world,” provided a better platform for the free safety to launch a broadcasting career.
Only it wouldn’t be true.
Boston’s biweekly trips to Culver City to appear as a guest analyst on the NFL Network’s “Total Access” show and “NFL Blitz,” a live Twitter show, this season were not part of some master plan Boston, 25, devised when he became a free agent last offseason.
“They just liked me and literally asked me to come up and host a show during the season, and I took the opportunity to do it,” said Boston, a former University of North Carolina standout who played his first three NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers.
“It’s something I want to do when football is over. I would like to go into broadcasting and be a sports analyst. Why not get the experience now while I’m in the league so when I’m out, I can literally hop right into it because they’ve seen me on camera, and they know what I can do.”
It’s easy to see why the network targeted Boston. He’s one of the most upbeat, affable and approachable players on the team and, as he readily acknowledges, he loves to talk.
“I’ve always had that gift of gab,” Boston said. “When you’re a kid it’s not usually a blessing because you’re labeled as disruptive, but I’ve always been that guy. It’s amazing how it’s been able to bless me as I’ve gotten older with something that wasn’t as popular when I was a kid.”
Chargers cornerback Trevor Williams called Boston “a natural” for television, and after meeting Boston’s mother, Iris DeHoyos, this year, he could see where Boston gets his personality.
“Tre is just like her,” Williams said. “They’re passionate about everything they do, they’re very prideful. They’re just good with people.”
Boston said he is a “spitting image” of his mother.
“My mom is me. I am my mom,” he said. “That’s where I get everything, from being personable, seeing the glass half-full, being able to talk and shine light on people every day, being happy. That’s how she raised me.”
Playing what is essentially a center field position in the secondary, Boston ranks third on the team with 72 tackles and has four interceptions and seven pass breakups entering Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Oakland Raiders.
He’s also an emotional leader on a defense that ranks third in the NFL in points given up (17.5 per game), passing yards given up (195.0) and interceptions (17), and has kept the Chargers in the hunt for a wild-card playoff spot.
“His enthusiasm is contagious,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “I like his passion for the game, especially on the defensive side of the ball; it gets the guys going early.”
Boston, who played for the Panthers in Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos after the 2015 season, beat out incumbent Dwight Lowery for the free-safety job in training camp and has played a team-high 987 defensive snaps this season.
Though he’s a newcomer to the Chargers, he felt comfortable and confident enough to impart his personality on the team.
“I want to have fun, to show the guys what it’s all about, that this is a job, but at the end of the day, this is a game we’ve played since we were kids, a game that we love,” Boston said. “I’ve been on some great teams before. As a veteran, I want to make sure I leave my imprint.”
Boston is in his fourth NFL season but is already laying the groundwork for a post-playing career. He analyzes games in the NFL Network studio with hosts Dan Hellie and Lindsay Rhodes, and in a segment called “Man to Man,” he breaks down individual matchups for upcoming games with former Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne.
“Tre has been great,” Hellie said in an email. “He came in every other week even during the tough times, when the Chargers were 0-4. He brings energy and candor.
“Being an active player, doing a national show, being asked to function as an actual NFL analyst and give real opinions on topics other than your own team isn’t easy. Tre has been tremendous and shows a lot of promise in TV when his playing days are over.”
Boston may eventually want to do color commentator work for games, but he loves the studio work so far.
“This is not something I had in mind when I signed with the Chargers, but God works in mysterious ways,” Boston said. “It’s something I know I’ve always wanted to do. I’m a communications major from Carolina. It’s perfect for me.”
There’s just one part of the television gig to which Boston is not fully ready for.
“I don’t wear makeup,” he said. “I’m too pretty for that.”
The Chargers will take their marketing slogan — “Fight for L.A.” — to the field next season when they play the Rams in the Coliseum, the first regular-season meeting between the teams since they moved to Los Angeles.
The Chargers are scheduled to play teams in the AFC North and the NFC West in 2018. With the Chargers locked into second place in the AFC West and second-place finishers from the other two AFC divisions locked in, the full list of 2018 opponents has been determined.
Exact playing dates will be announced in late April. The Chargers’ home opponents will be the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.