A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Franklin joined the Chargers as an unrestricted free agent in 2015. Standing 6-7 and weighing 320 pounds, he is an imposing figure on the interior of the Bolts’ offensive line.
Franklin was one of the NFL’s most sought-after free agents in 2015. During his first four seasons with the Broncos, the former second-round pick started 70 of 71 possible games, playoffs included. In 2013, he gave up just two sacks as the starting right tackle for a Broncos team that reached Super Bowl XLVIII. In 2014, he surrendered just one sack and eight pressures for the league’s fourth-ranked offense in his first season lining up at left guard.
In the NFL, few players have an easy path to reach stardom. In Franklin’s case, his path was filled with potholes.
When he was three years old, Franklin’s mother, Sylvia, decided to relocate Orlando and his brother, Kingsley, from Jamaica to Toronto, Canada in search of a better life. She was a single mother who married a Canadian man so she could live in the country legally. She took a job working six days a week in an auto garage to make ends meet. After several years, the marriage deteriorated and Sylvia made the difficult decision to leave with the boys. With little money and few personal effects, Sylvia, Kingsley and Orlando moved into a homeless shelter.
When the Franklins moved out of the shelter, they relocated into a community housing project in Victoria Park. It was there that Orlando first started playing football after coming into contact with a gentleman named Roberto Allen, better known as “Coach Bubba.” While football provided a positive escape for Franklin, he also had a difficult time steering clear of the wrong crowd. At the age of nine after seeing his brother get arrested, Franklin asked his mom to move him into a group home where he lived for the next 18 months. But while living in the group home, Franklin wasn’t living a trouble-free life.
Over the next three years, Franklin continued to find trouble both with the law and in school. He was kicked out of school after being suspended too many times to count. It was a low point for the future NFL star. Franklin’s mother once made him suffer through the indignity of incarceration. He ended up spending a couple months behind bars and when he finally returned home, his mom gave him an ultimatum: either turn his life around or the next time he got arrested, he was staying in jail. His mom even went so far as to draw up a contract that Orlando signed promising to keep on the straight and narrow.
Franklin managed to keep his troubled past in the rear-view mirror at the same time he was growing and blossoming into a promising football talent. Knowing that his football options were severely limited in Canada, Franklin convinced his mom to relocate to the United States so he could pursue the opportunity to earn a scholarship and play Division I football. They settled on Delray Beach, Florida and Franklin enrolled at Atlantic High School. He played just one season for the Eagles, but Franklin did so without allowing a sack and more than 70 scholarship offers poured in. He ended up selecting the University of Miami so he could be close to his mom. It was a prophetic choice as Franklin became one of the most decorated offensive linemen in school history. He became the first freshman in school history to start every game and by the end of his college career, Franklin had played in a total of 51 games while twice earning All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors.
All of the lows that Franklin endured as a youth have shaped him into not only a successful professional athlete, but a role model for kids in both Canada and the United States. A kid who at one time appeared destined for a life behind bars, Franklin earned a psychology degree from Miami and he created the Orlando Franklin Foundation, whose mission is to reach out to at-risk youth. Ironically, one of the men who helps him run the foundation is a Toronto police sergeant. And while Franklin has become a success in the NFL, Sylvia now runs a successful clothing business back in Jamaica and Kingsley has found success working in the construction industry in Canada.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: Second-round pick by Denver, (46), April 29, 2011...signed July 28...contract expired March 10, 2015...signed five-year contract with Chargers, March 11.
2015: Helped Chargers pass for 404 yards in 33-28 win over Detroit in Sept. 13 as line allowed just two sacks in 44 dropbacks...left Minnesota game Sept. 27 with ankle injury...inactive Oct. 4 vs. Cleveland, Oct. 12 vs. Pittsburgh and Oct. 18 at Green Bay (ankle)...injured knee in fourth quarter Oct. 25 vs. Oakland and did not return...inactive Nov. 1 at Baltimore and Nov. 9 vs. Chicago (knee)...played all 71 snaps at left guard of 31-25 win at Jacksonville Nov. 29...line allowed just two sacks in 45 total dropbacks while Philip Rivers passed for 300 yards and four touchdowns...Dec. 20 vs. Miami, helped team rush for season-high 140 yards, while line allowed just one sack in 37 passing plays as Rivers threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns...left Oakland game Oct. 24 in fourth quarter with concussion and did not return...inactive Jan. 3 at Denver.
2014: Started all 17 games, including Divisional Playoffs, at left guard...allowed just one sack on season.
2013: First-career missed game Oct. 20 at Indianapolis...starting right tackle was part of offensive line named Offensive Player of Week by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King after allowing no sacks or quarterback hits during 27-17 win over Kansas City Nov. 17...Chiefs came into game with NFL’s top-ranked sack defense...starting right tackle on line that did not allow sack or QB hit in Jan. 19 win over New England in AFC Championship Game.
2012: Allowed just 3.5 sacks on season, fewest among right tackles who started all 16 games and tied for third-fewest among all tackles who started every game.
2011: Football Outsiders All-Rookie Team...started every game, including two playoff games, at right tackle...played 98.2 percent of offensive snaps...helped Broncos lead league and set team record with 164.5 rush yards per game.
COLLEGE: All-ACC as junior and senior...Miami Sports Hall of Fame Unsung Hero Award as senior...shared UM’s Rookie of Year Award as true freshman in 2007...played in 51 career games with 39 starts at left guard and left tackle...played at Miami from 2007-10...earned psychology degree.
PERSONAL: Born in Kingston, Jamaica...allowed no sacks as senior at Atlantic High School in Delray Beach, Florida.