36 years old. For many, 36 years old is not old at all. Not quite to middle age, not even approaching the hill. In the NFL, and quite frankly in sports in general, 36 years old is the equivalent to a 60-year-old man in life. At 36, you've taken all the bumps and the bruises of a 10+ year career, and you're perceived to be done or clinging to the little career you have left.
For Anquan Boldin, 36 appears to be another year of NFL success. The receiver may as well be dubbed The Ageless Wonder. Back in July when the Lions took a chance that the Redskins and 49ers wouldn't be signing Boldin, nobody could have expected the production he would give the Lions. In fact many thought the signing was a bad idea and Boldin wouldn't make the team.
Here we are five months later and the old man leads the team in touchdown receptions. 55 receptions, 481 yards and seven touchdowns couldn't have been what you expected. The fact is, that's really not the whole story; He brings so much more.
Anquan has suddenly become a major option on third down conversions. Matthew Stafford has gone to the ageless receiver on third down 31 times this season. Boldin has converted 18 of those attempts into first downs. He's literally kept the Lions in games on multiple occasions. One of those 18 was a game-winning touchdown against Washington. Others helped with the Lions eight comeback wins.
But wait, there's more. There's so much more. In addition to his stellar play on the field, Anquan Boldin brings an attitude to the locker room that the Lions may never have had before--or at least in the past 16 years. The former Walter Payton Man of the Year brings a leadership and championship knowledge to a locker room that has sorely needed it for some time.
This reflects on the rest of the receiving group. You can see it when they flash to the bench before a commercial. Anquan Boldin is always sitting there with his hat flipped up like Wesley Snipes' hat in "White Men Can't Jump", talking to the other receivers, giving them advice,calming them when they need it or getting them hyped when they need it. That's the kind of experience you can't teach.
So I have to argue: Why can't Boldin be the biggest signing of the summer? I think it's possible he's one the biggest acquisition as far as receivers go, without a doubt. Take a look at his stats compared to every other receiver signed to a new team over the summer.
He finds himself kind of low on the totem poll as far as yards go, but only Rishard Matthews has scored as many touchdowns as he has. And only Mike Wallace has more receptions. Still, with the exception of Wallace, Jones and Matthews, I can't see any of these guys meaning as much to their team as Boldin has to the Lions.
Sanu is the No. 2 receiver in Atlanta behind Julio Jones, Travis Benjamin is third on the Chargers in all receiving stats, Andre Johnson retired and Brandon LaFell is behind AJ Green despite Green's injury. Boldin is out there making clutch moves for the Lions.
He's even making a little history along the way.
Anquan Boldin’s now in the top 10 all-time for receptions in NFL history pic.twitter.com/GIUvK5NUNs— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) December 11, 2016
How about that? Boldin entered the top 10 all-time receptions group on Sunday with his second quarter touchdown. He's got some other moves he can make up the historical ladder this season, too. He's currently sitting at 15th all time in receiving yards, Boldin can pass Cris Carter and move into 13th all time with just 224 more yards. Sadly he probably won't hit that mark in 2016, but he can definitely pass Henry Ellard with 101 more. He could also pass Calvin Johnson on the all time touchdown ranks with three more touchdowns. he's currently 25th all time with 81 touchdowns.
Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. Maybe I've had too many crazy pills. But in my opinion, Anquan Boldin may be the most important move the Lions made this summer, as far a the offense and locker room goes. That's my story and I'm sticking to it and all that stuff.
Be sure to leave your comments below or come feel free to tell me I'm wrong on Twitter @POD_Payton.