The million dollar 'Welsh' superstar already in NFL with the tattoos to prove it

Tyson Bagent of Chicago Bears
Tyson Bagent of Chicago Bears -Credit:Getty Images

It's been a whirlwind 12 months, but Tyson Bagent is gearing up for what could be his biggest season yet.

After making his breakthrough last October, the 23-year-old has emerged as one of the brightest prospects in the hyper-competitive world of the NFL, and is now hoping to further make his mark with the Chicago Bears.

"I wanna win the MVP at some point," he says. "Whether that will happen this year or in four years, I don't know. I think we've got a shot to win the Superbowl, I think that's what everybody's goal is for the season.

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"Nobody's striving for anything less than that. Everybody wants to win the Superbowl. Get to that game, and really just execute at a really high level. There's a lot of steps that need to be taken up until that point.

"As far as goals, I'd definitely like to be hoisting up a trophy at the end of the year."

The Bears have only lifted the famous Vince Lombardi trophy on one occasion, beating the New England Patriots at Superbowl XX in New Orleans back in 1986. They've only reached the most famous stage in sport on one occasion since.

It's not quite as pronounced as some other droughts in this famous city. After all, the Chicago Cubs went an incredible 108 years before finally picking up their third World Series title. But fans in the Windy City are increasingly desperate for this franchise to once again taste the immortality of winning the ultimate prize.

After the departure of star quarter-back Justin Fields, Bagent's importance to this team has clearly already grown. The team has the first pick in this year's NFL draft and is widely expected to pick highly rated quarterback Caleb Williams. But if the Bears are to enjoy glory this season, Bagent still has a good chance to be at the centre of it. However, the gaze of expectation won't just be from those in Chicago.

As it turns out, his progress may well spark a bit of interest from these shores too.

Bagent, who is paid $1m a year, caused a big stir on what many would affectionately refer to as 'Welsh Twitter' after being snapped with his top off in the locker room - and it wasn't just for his impressive physique.

Eagle-eyed onlookers noticed the 23-year-old had a couple of striking tattoos, which appeared to be written in Welsh. It unsurprisingly got many wondering; what on earth is an NFL star doing covered in Welsh tattoos?

Tyson Bagent's Welsh tattoos -Credit:Tyson Bagent
Tyson Bagent's Welsh tattoos -Credit:Tyson Bagent

"I started getting blown up on Instagram a few weeks ago and then I was told there were some interviews people wanted to get done regarding my tattoos," he tells WalesOnline. "So that was kind of how I was made aware of it all."

Commenting on his tattoos, Bagent continues: "I have on the upper part of my left chest, I have the world 'Teulu', which means family in Welsh.

"My grandfather was Welsh, and I'm big on family. I'm a family guy. I love my family. So that was the first tattoo I ever got when I was almost 18. Then on the right side of my chest I have a full tattoo for my grandfather as he passed away a few years ago."

Bagent's grandfather, Dave Humphreys, originally hailed from the village of Maentwrog, a small village in Gwynedd that according to the last census has a population of just over 600.

It seems an unlikely starting point for a path that would eventually lead all the way to glitz and glamour of the NFL, but his granddad was clearly a huge influence on Tyson's life, and indeed his football career.

His grandfather's passing two years ago from cancer clearly hit hard, but also brought his Welsh heritage into sharper focus.

"There was a plane he used to fly too when he was a pilot," Tyson continues as he talks about his other tattoo. "And there's a mural of him in a boat because me and him used to always go fishing. Then underneath that was one of the last things he ever said to me when I was talking to him about being a pilot when he was in the hospice. He told me all his life that he felt like he was made to fly.

"So I just translated that into the Welsh, and had that underneath the boat to complete the tattoo.

"He was just the coolest guy. A really cool, sharp guy. He loved sports and loved watching me play football. So it's really all for him. If he hadn't been such a cool granddad I might have been like 'screw all that Welsh bullshit!'

"But he was cool, so now I have Welsh tattooed all over me!"

Tyson admits he doesn't know many of the specifics about his granddad's Welsh heritage. Nor does he appear to know much about Wales itself. But he admits he's keen to learn more, adding that visiting here is already on his bucket list.

He grew up in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, which has provided the home for a sizeable influx of Welsh immigrants, many of whom first arrived to work in the tin, steel and coal industries back in the 1800s.

Growing up, there were two constants for Tyson; family and football.

"I'm the oldest of four kids," he says looking back on his childhood. "My mom and dad are still together and all my immediate family, almost all of my aunts and uncles, grand-parents were in the general vicinity as well. I started playing quarter-back playing football when I was six. I just loved it. Loved it more as I got older and I knew that's what I wanted to do.

"It's been a journey, but it's been blessed journey nonetheless. I'm grateful for the position I'm in. I'm just looking to see how far I can take it. How back of a resource I can be for my team and of the guys around home."

As it happens, Tyson is also from an elite sporting background. His father, Travis, is a legendary name in professional arm-wrestling. Part competitor, part showman, he went on to become a 28-time world champion in what is arguably the one of the world's most binary sports.

When asked about his success, Travis Bagent, nicknamed 'The Beast', once proudly proclaimed to ESPN: "My game was to make sure that you knew that I'm crazy. I have no reason to think that I'm not going to win."

Son Tyson admits he has that same level of fierce, burning competitive edge in him. The sort one might argue is the bare minimum for anyone looking to succeed in the athletically demanding world of the NFL.

"My dad's side usually comes out when we're in a game or any time I'm competing," he explains. "Then my mom's side, which is far more relaxed, comes out whenever I'm not competing.

"Especially after a game. Last thing I want to do is be rambunctious and all crazy. I like to take a deep breath after every game. Put it behind me and start to rest before I need to start getting ready for the next game."

There's certainly plenty of cause to focus the mind ahead of the new campaign. Despite Bagent's breakthrough, there's already talk of the Bears potentially opting for Caleb Williams in the latest Draft, where Chicago have the first pick. Williams, a Heisman Trophy winner in 2022, is heralded by some as a potential generational talent, and the media across the pond are already touting him as a potential missing piece in the Bears jigsaw.

Tyson clearly has plenty still to prove, and perhaps now he might just have the benefit of having the nation of Wales behind him as he bids to make this next season a success. Then again, he's obviously not the only reason why the gaze from these shores has intensified a little recently.

Louis Rees-Zammit's move from international rugby to current Superbowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs has clearly captured the imagination on both sides of the Atlantic, and has unsurprisingly cropped up on Tyson's radar too.

"It's a story that I've come across and it's very interesting," Tyson says. "From what I understand he could be a guy that can do a bunch of things for them.

"I know he seems like a good athlete, I know they clocked him in at a very fast speed. So any time you can get speed onto the field it's never a bad thing. So I'm excited for him and sure it'll be very exciting for everyone in Wales too.

So, does he have any advice?

"I don't know, but I'm sure he'll figure it out real soon. I'd just tell him to work really hard. Don't try to stress about anything. Be prepared. Everything else is outside of your control.

"Control what you can control."