First published in the May 12 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
“Hey, Coach Bonds would be proud, wouldn’t he?”
Those were the first words spoken by Denver Broncos general manager George Paton to Greg Dulcich, whom Paton had just selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft on April 29 in Las Vegas.
And for good reason. Both Paton and Dulcich have extensive connections to both La Cañada Flintridge and Bonds.
Paton grew up in LCF and attended La Cañada High School for one year before transferring to Loyola High in Los Angeles. He played collegiately at UCLA and roomed there with Bonds, who died in October 2020 after a long tenure as St. Francis High School’s coach, where Dulcich played his high school football.
Paton has been an executive in the NFL since 1997 and was named general manager of the Broncos in January 2021.
Dulcich said he was “fired up” at the prospect of joining the Broncos when he held his initial press conference after the team made him its third-round draft choice with the 80th overall selection in the 2022 draft.
“I couldn’t be more excited about being a member of the Broncos organization,” Dulcich said last Tuesday. “I know it’s the perfect fit. The team and staff are so awesome and we’re going to be very successful, so I can’t wait to get started.”
Like Paton, Dulcich went on to UCLA, where he caught 42 passes — and apparently the eyes of Broncos’ scouts — during UCLA’s 2021 season. He had 725 yards receiving and five touchdowns as the Bruins finished with an 8-4 record and qualified for the Holiday Bowl. His 17.3 yards-per-catch average was particularly head-turning and earned him a spot on the All-Pac-12 first team.
Few, if any, who are familiar with Dulcich were startled by his success at the collegiate level. While a junior at St. Francis, he made 30 catches for 406 yards and four touchdowns. Dulcich caught 50 passes — and the attention of recruiters — during his senior year, gaining 1,168 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns on pass receptions and another three TDs while running the football. He proved his durability by recording 21 tackles on defense. That season, the Golden Knights advanced to the 2017 CIF Division 3 championship game — the school’s first in 53 years — where they suffered a heartbreaking 44-42 defeat.
During its draft coverage, ESPN commentator and former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard quoted UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, who said Dulcich’s work ethic is “off the charts” when the selection was announced.
Paton said that the position of tight end was a priority and said the Broncos were looking for players with exemplary character.
Paton also acknowledged it was “pretty cool” to select Dulcich and pay tribute to Bonds, whom Paton called his “best friend.”
“I get a little emotional just thinking about it,” Paton said. “Jimmy was with us both. Greg will be here every day and I will think about [Bonds] every him every time I see him.”
The son of Glendale’s Anna and George Dulcich, Greg has an older brother, George Jr., and two sisters, Eva and Madeline. George preceded Greg at St. Francis and also played football for the Golden Knights.
Dulcich watched the draft at home with his family and friends.