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Football is Family for Nick Niemann
The rookie linebacker talks about the impact his dad and brother have had on his professional life, how his first training camp went, what the preseason has been like, and more.
By Hayley Elwood Aug 26, 2021

We're continuing our series of checking in with Chargers players ahead of the 2021 season.

Our next conversation features linebacker Nick Niemann.

Drafted by the Bolts in the sixth round, the former Iowa Hawkeye currently leads the Chargers in tackles during the preseason. Having a "nose for the ball" is no surprise given Niemann's upbringing.

Here's more from Niemann on his play thus far, who he's looked to on the Bolts for guidance, what it was like growing up in a football family, and more.

Your first NFL training camp is coming to a close, how did it go for you?

Niemann: It went well. It was a really good learning experience for me. Obviously, there's a lot of stuff to clean up but I think I also was able to say that I did some good things competing at this level. I was able to tell myself I'm capable of playing here which is the biggest thing. Overall, it's been super fun. Really love the linebacker room, a lot of good guys in there teaching me things and I love my position coach. 

What was your mindset like coming into this team?

Niemann: Just trying to learn things as fast as I can. If I make mistakes, do it full speed and try to go hard and make plays and find a role no matter where that would be. Just do what I can to help us win.

In terms of the linebackers room, who's giving you good advice/being a good resource?

Niemann: Kenneth [Murray,] Drue [Tranquill,] and Kyzir [White,] have been good. They're obviously older guys who have NFL experience and they've been able to show me things I haven't seen before and hadn't realized. They've taught me how to approach things on a daily basis and that's probably been the biggest deal for me. I love the room and it's nice that we're all in the first year of the system learning the defense together.

What's it been like getting out there in the preseason?

Niemann: It's been crazy!

In a good way?

Niemann: Oh yeah, it's been good. A lot of bullets flying but I'm just trying to make plays and do things fast, as I said. As a rookie, you're going to have mistakes, but I'm trying to learn everything, watch the film and try to improve every week and every day.

You've led the team in tackles over the first two games, what do you attribute that to?

Niemann: Trying to be around the football all the time. Trying to have a nose for the ball. I think being a good defensive player, and especially a good linebacker, you're gonna be around the football and you're gonna be a guy who tries to make tackles and play hard.

You've been around the game your whole life. Your dad is a coach, your brother plays for the Kansas City Chiefs. When did you realize how big of a deal football was growing up?

Niemann: I would say probably middle school. That's when I realized this is sweet! I wanna do this! Obviously growing up, going to my dad's practices every day and on the weekends every fall, that's all my brother and I did. Moving around a lot as a coach's kid growing up, football is what we fell to. My mom, that's all she's forced to like! But it's been good and being around big-time football with my dad, I just saw how cool that scene was. Seeing my brother do his thing and turn it into reality and what could happen motivated me.

You mentioned watching your dad coach, what was it like growing up with a dad who did that?

Niemann: He was really good about letting my brother and me do what we wanted to do and take on our own interests. He didn't force anything on us, but I think deep down he was hoping we'd be football players and wanted to do that! He was a great resource but wasn't overbearing.

How much of an impact has he had on your professional life?

Niemann: He's had a huge impact. Anyone that plays football can tell you that the game is awesome but everything that goes into it, the work ethic, the character, just all those traits that come with being a football player can help you in your daily life. He's tried to instill that in my brother and me. That's just something we've lived by and what our mentality has been like.

How did your brother getting into the NFL before you, help you?

Niemann: He was a huge inspiration. We're like the same type of person so seeing that he could do it, it was like, 'Wow, I can do it, too.' All his experiences, going to NFL games, him telling me little things to help me out. Him going to the Super Bowl and getting to experience that, it's hard to explain what that can do for you. But it's super inspirational and motivational to see that.

He give you any good advice?

Niemann: Try to be coachable and know as much as you can. Take things day by day and worry about yourself and what you can do to improve. If you can do that, you'll be in good standing.

Little AFC West rivalry going on, huh?

Niemann: Oh yeah. We're gonna get after it.

Have you talked to your parents about that? Are they gonna be split down the middle?

Niemann: My mom's probably already ordered a half and half jersey! It'll be fun. We've always been competitive and there will be a little talking going on.

What do you hope to show in that final preseason game?

Niemann: Just trying to show that I've taken another step forward and that I'm capable of being a player in this league. That I can make good plays and play on special teams, which is gonna be a huge factor. Just what I've been doing, trying to take steps forward and have fun.

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