The Untold Truth Of Joshua Dobbs

Joshua Dobbs has been a professional football player for several years, but his name has been growing in prominence since joining the Minnesota Vikings in the fall of 2023. Drafted into the NFL in 2017, Dobbs had played backup quarterback for several teams until, in the fall of 2023, he was traded from the Arizona Cardinals to Minnesota. During his first game with his new team, fate intervened and led him to take to the field as starting quarterback. 

Fans were blown away by his performance, and a star was born. Despite the sudden surge of interest in the athlete, who played college ball at the University of Tennessee, Dobbs is no overnight sensation. In fact, the more that football fans learn about him, the more they realize how unique Dobbs is, both as a quarterback and in a completely different role that has little to do with throwing a football.

In fact, there's a lot to unpack about this multitalented athlete, and much that football fans may not know about him. To find out more, we're taking a deep dive into the untold truth of Joshua Dobbs.

Joshua Dobbs' rise to the top of the NFL has been unusual

Joshua Dobbs' 2017 entry into the NFL was inauspicious, to say the least. A fourth-round draft pick, Dobbs was selected as a backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Given that the Steelers' starting quarterback was superstar Ben Roethlisberger, Dobbs spent most of his first NFL season on the bench. Standing in the shadow of one of the league's top QBs didn't exactly provide him with a whole lot of NFL experience; in fact, during his first two seasons with the Steelers, he threw a grand total of 17 passes. "I understood my journey might be a little unique," Dobbs told reporters after a game, as chronicled by The Washington Post

With no chance he'd surpass Roethlisberger — or even be given the opportunity to try — Dobbs settled in and bonded with the star QB. When the Steelers' playbooks switched from pages in binders to tablets, the technologically challenged Roethlisberger asked Dobbs for help to figure it out. Dobbs soon became his confidant. "I trusted he wasn't going to just say what I wanted to hear," Roethlisberger told the Post. "He was going to tell me what he saw. It's invaluable to have a guy like that in your corner and behind you. He wanted to play, but he wasn't trying to take my job."

Meanwhile, Dobbs was soaking it all in, with Roethlisberger serving as Mr. Miyagi to Dobbs' Daniel San. 

The athlete played on seven teams in seven seasons

After spending two seasons with the Steelers, Joshua Dobbs was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was then traded back to the Steelers, and then, in 2022, to the Cleveland Browns. That same year, he was traded to the Detroit Lions, and later that year went to the Tennessee Titans. In 2023, he was traded back to the Cleveland Browns, then to the Arizona Cardinals, who traded Dobbs to the Minnesota Vikings in October 2023. Add that all up, and Dobbs has played for seven different teams over the course of seven NFL seasons. 

Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell envisioned a bright future for Dobbs in Minnesota. "I think he's a very intelligent guy, which gives us an opportunity to get him in here in a short amount of time and try to prepare him for any snaps when that may occur," O'Connell said, somewhat presciently, in a SiriusXM radio interview, via the Associated Press.

Moving around that much would understandably rattle anyone — but not, apparently, Dobbs. Instead, he chose to treat his experience with each team as a chance to learn, grow, and improve. "Each stop, each opportunity, my role has grown," he told The Washington Post. "I kind of accepted that was going to be my journey. Whatever opportunity was thrown my way, no matter how big or small, I was going to make the most of it."

The QB led his teammates to victory first and learned their names later

After the trade that brought Joshua Dobbs to the Minnesota Vikings, coach Kevin O'Connell didn't have to wait long to see how well his new acquisition would fare on the field. Just five days after Dobbs was traded to the team, starting quarterback Jaren Hall was injured during the first quarter when the Vikings took on the Atlanta Falcons, with Hall suffering a concussion. Dobbs was sent in and more than delivered the goods. Not only did he complete 20 out of the 30 passes he made, he threw a spectacular pass to wide receiver Brandon Powell that resulted in a game-winning touchdown, with just 22 seconds of gameplay remaining. When the dust settled, the Vikings had achieved a narrow 31-28 victory.  

"He's smart as hell. To be able to come in here and learn that offense that fast and go out there and call them plays, he's smart. That's a smart dude," Powell said, as reported by USA Today. "He was paying attention. Came in the game, never practicing, and we won the game."

In fact, after the game had ended, Dobbs admitted that he still hadn't learned most of the other Vikings players' names. "If we had to pull up a roster of names, I'll be a bad teammate today," Dobbs confessed but promised he'd be working on it. "Names, that's for this week," he added. "That's an assignment for this week."

He set an NFL record after just two games with the Vikings

After leading the Minnesota Vikings to victory over the Atlanta Falcons, Joshua Dobbs' second game as the team's QB was equally impressive. When the Vikings took on the New Orleans Saints, they experienced an even more decisive win, 27-19. In doing so, Dobbs not only racked up two back-to-back wins in his first two games as a Viking, he also set a new NFL record. 

During that first game, he gained 158 offensive yards; in the second, he racked up another 312. As a result, Dobbs became the first player in the history of the NFL to accumulate more than 400 passing yards — along with 100 rushing yards, without any interceptions — in any player's first two games with a team. 

Addressing his back-to-back wins and his record-setting performance, Dobbs was characteristically humble in recognizing that two games, however good they were, do not make up a season. "Whatever happened, you have to put that aside and go on to the next one," he told ABC News. "You show up on Sunday, you don't play well? No one cares what you did last week in Atlanta. They care about what you did this week in Minnesota."

Joshua Dobbs is a legit rocket scientist

While Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell has repeatedly praised Joshua Dobbs' intelligence, those smarts extend far beyond the field and all the way to outer space. In fact, when he's not playing football, Dobbs is an aerospace engineer who interned with NASA in 2020 and 2021. Working on NASA's Artemis program, Dobbs proved himself the real deal. 

"Josh was immersed in the instrumentation group to measure critical data regarding that mobile launcher and the rocket itself," Scott Colloredo, director of engineering at the Kennedy Space Center, told CBS News. "He definitely pulled his weight as an engineer. He showed us some promise. And we'd love to see him again once his career plays out."

For Dobbs, aerospace engineering isn't just a passion — it's also where he envisions himself after his football career concludes. "I've been deliberate," he said in an interview with the NFLPA, explaining that the steps he's taken outside the NFL have laid the groundwork for what he believes will be his future career. "I think you have to have a plan at the end of the day to see the bigger picture and take advantage of the opportunities you're given," he added.

The 'Passtronaut' is one of the quarterback's nicknames

Joshua Dobbs' unique double life as an NFL quarterback and aerospace engineer earned him the nickname "Astro Dobbs." That nickname, in fact, has been around for awhile — long enough that Dobbs even has his own "Astro" merch available for sale, including branded baseball caps, hoodies, and more.

Dobbs has picked up a whole new moniker: "Passtronaut." During an appearance on "The Dave Pasch Podcast," Dobbs noted that this new nickname "has begun to gain some steam," adding, "We need to do something fun around it." The nickname picked up even more traction when Dobbs received congratulations from NASA's Glenn Research Center after his triumphant first game for the Minnesota Vikings. "Congratulations @josh_dobbs1 on yesterday's big win! Looks like you rock(et) on and off the field. We heard you've even got a new nickname, the 'Passtronaut.' If the suit fits, wear it," read the celebratory tweet, which concluded with an emoji of a rocket blasting off.

The adulation he received from NASA shouldn't be surprising, given how well Dobbs fit in while interning there. "NASA is a fan club of Josh Dobbs," Scott Colloredo, Kennedy Space Center engineering director, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "He really got a lot of street cred with our engineers. They became his fans."

Joshua Dobbs wasn't previously given a chance to shine

Given the immediate success that Joshua Dobbs experienced with the Minnesota Vikings, an obvious question emerged: Why didn't he have similar experiences with the other teams for which he played?

Dobbs answered that question — interestingly enough, nearly a year before he was traded to the Vikings. Speaking at a Tennessee Titans press conference after his first-ever stint as starting quarterback, Dobbs was asked if the reason he hadn't been able to show off his skills previously was because didn't have the opportunity. "No, I didn't. Honestly, I didn't," he confirmed, as reported by Steelers Depot. "Just given my circumstances and the lack of opportunity I've had, it's definitely been tough. Especially when you pour everything into it and you don't get the opportunity, it's always tough." 

Of course, serving as backup quarterback to Ben Roethlisberger during his seasons with the Steelers offered scant opportunities to showcase his own skills. The flip side, however, was that he was able to learn from one of the greats, knowledge he was able to unleash when he finally did have the chance. "He's played a lot of football, seen a lot of football," Dobbs said of Roethlisberger in an interview posted on X (formerly Twitter). "He's a good football player, and you're seeing it," Roethlisberger told The Washington Post. "I felt bad because he kept going to bad football teams and never getting a chance."

He's constantly working to improve his skills

Joshua Dobbs holds the rare distinction of being only the second NFL quarterback in the history of the league to start for three different teams within the same calendar year — and the first to hit the field with less than three weeks of prep time with each of those franchises. "This has never happened in the history of the league," Dobbs' agent, Mike McCartney, told The Washington Post. "It's not like you go to the library and say, 'How do I handle this?' He's the one who's writing the book."

Achieving that didn't come without a lot of hard work. Even as a college quarterback, Dobbs was committed to improving both his own abilities and those of his teammates. "It is constant improvement at the QB position," he told Knoxville Focus. "As the quarterback you have to push people to get better every day ... You push guys to compete and to grow on and off the field." 

For all of Joshua Dobbs' incredible achievements, the trait that comes through immediately in interviews is how humble he is. Bragging about his achievements, it seems, is seemingly not in his DNA. "It wasn't something my husband and I attempted to teach him," Dobbs' mother, Stephanie Dobbs, told the New York Post of her son's humble nature. "From our perspective it just seems to be innate in his personality."

Juggling football and NASA

Being able to divide his time between aerospace engineering and professional football is no mean feat, and to be able to do it at the level that Josh Dobbs has is nothing short of astounding. "He would have to be brilliant in order to pull that off but also so organized and efficient with his time so that he could keep all his ducks in a row like that," Dr. David Forliti, an engineering professor with the University of St. Thomas, told Sports Illustrated. "It's just not something that most people can do."

Dobbs had previously done the same thing while attending the University of Tennessee, but that ability to multitask and master the art of time management is something he's had since childhood. "So, the different experiences that I had growing up and being able to juggle football, baseball, basketball, along with taking accelerated classes and then being in the band. I was in karate, I was in chorus. I learned I couldn't sing, but I was in chorus," Dobbs told NASA's "Rocket Ranch" podcast.

That said, Dobbs is the first to admit that the skills required in aerospace engineering aren't completely different from those needed to be a quarterback in the NFL. "That process of having to critically think, problem solve, and then repeat process and applying multiple principles across different situations does translate between being an engineer and being a quarterback," he told CBS News.

Chatting with astronauts on the International Space Station

One of the highlights of Joshua Dobbs' life that didn't take place in a football stadium occurred in 2021, when he spoke with astronauts stationed aboard the International Space Station. Dobbs — who, at the time, was still playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers — chatted with NASA astronauts Commander Victor Glover and Colonel Michael Hopkins, both of whom had been college football players. Also aboard the ISS was Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, who, like Dobbs, is an aeronautical engineer and was also a wide receiver when he played football for the University of Tokyo. 

After introducing themselves, the astronauts brought out a small football but admitted that throwing it in a zero-gravity environment was pretty challenging. Dobbs was clearly awestruck, telling the astronauts, "You guys are living out all of our childhood dreams right now," he said in a YouTube video of the conversation. "So we definitely look up to you guys, and appreciate all of your hard work in setting an example for us, and aspiring us to achieve our dreams each day as well."

As Commander Glover told Dobbs, that was his first time aboard the ISS, and he admitted it had been the experience of a lifetime. "It's already exceeded my expectations," he said of living on the space station. "Every single day has been a learning experience. Looking out the Cupola window at the Earth has been awe inspiring."

He wants to go space -- but he won't be the first NFL player to do it

Joshua Dobbs would love to visit outer space, something he confirmed during an appearance on "The Dave Pasch Podcast." "Go to space and come back," he clarified. "A lot of people are like, 'Go to space, go to the moon, go to Mars,'" Dobbs said. "Obviously we haven't sent people to Mars yet."

As companies such as Elon Musk's SpaceX, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic increase the opportunities for non-astronauts (albeit very rich ones) to journey into space, Dobbs said he was hopeful that he'd get up there eventually. "It's on my bucket list," he said. "Obviously that's a huge decision to make, but it would be cool."

If Dobbs does someday venture into space, he won't be the first NFL player to make it there. That honor is held by Leland Melvin, who played for the Detroit Lions and was then traded to Dallas. After retiring, Melvin applied for NASA's astronaut class and was accepted. He wound up embarking on two missions aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis and even spent some time on the ISS. All told, Melvin spent 565 hours in space. "When I was growing up, some of the teachers said, 'You can either be a jock, or you can either be a scientist or engineer.' And people don't see that you can do both," Melvin told ESPN

Does Joshua Dobbs believe in aliens?

Given Joshua Dobbs' desire to blast beyond Earth's atmosphere, does he expect to encounter extraterrestrial life forms if he ever finds himself in outer space? In October 2023, before being traded from the Arizona Cardinals to the Minnesota Vikings, Dobbs was asked during a press conference about Congressional hearings on UFOs and the existence of aliens. Dobbs, however, was unconvinced that humans are not alone in the universe. "I do not believe in UFOs and aliens," Dobbs said in video of that press conference. 

Interestingly, Dobbs was asked pretty much that same question back in 2020 while appearing on "The Jim Rome Show" – and gave a somewhat different answer. "I think I do believe in UFOs, just because, they are what they say, they're unidentified flying objects," he said. "There are so many advances in the aviation world, that are more on the military side than the commercial side, that are kind of, I guess, dark ops are kept secret, that the stuff flying nowadays, the type of technology and our advancements, they're really mind-blowing ... I don't believe there are, like, aliens flying around, but I think there's some interesting stuff flying up in the sky ..." 

In fact, Dobbs considers those UFOs to be representative of the work being done — albeit covertly — in his field of aerospace engineering. "It's kind of a true testament to engineering and the minds that we have on this planet," he added. 

He's a big proponent of STEM education

When Joshua Dobbs called in to speak with astronauts orbiting Earth on the International Space Station, the purpose of that conversation was to promote the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in classrooms. Speaking with Innovation & Tech Today, Dobbs pointed out that the opportunities available to those who focus on STEM were vast and constantly evolving. "Technology is changing every single day and growing and getting better, so no matter what field you're going into, you literally have a direct impact on the future, on how people can interact with technology, how you can make people's lives easier," he explained. "So it's a really powerful time to be involved in the STEM world, and I think if you just pursue your passions and find a degree that helps you pursue those passions and impact the world, then I think the sky's the limit."

Meanwhile, Dobbs' boss at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Scott Colloredo, was hopeful that the NFL quarterback's sudden surge in popularity since joining the Vikings could bring about an increased interest in STEM. "It's fun when engineers are cool and rocket scientists become popular all of sudden, not that we weren't popular but we don't have too many household names out there," Colloredo told KARE 11. "It feels like all of a sudden [Dobbs] has become one of those, so yeah, this is great, and I hope we ride this wave for awhile."

Joshua Dobbs has alopecia

One of Joshua Dobbs' most defining physical characteristics is his bald head. Unlike many athletes who shave their heads for a smooth look, Dobbs' lack of hair isn't due to a style choice, but the result of alopecia. 

Dobbs was first diagnosed with alopecia — a condition that causes hair loss — when he was in the third grade. It's something he's lived with for most of his life, and has learned to take in stride. "Everyone's going through something," he said, as reported by the Arizona Cardinals website. "For us, alopecia may be a little more visually visible to outside people looking in, but everyone's going through something."

Interviewed by NIH MedlinePlus Magazine, Dobbs admitted that his alopecia had sometimes been met with cruel taunts and jibes from opposing players and fans. "That was tough, but it taught me the ultimate form of self-confidence," he explained. "You can look in the mirror and know that the fact that you can't grow hair has no impact on what you contribute to your team, your friends, or your community." Ultimately, he came to realize that his lack of hair offered no hindrance in his quest to achieve the goals that he'd set for himself. "Keep in mind that all of your dreams can be accomplished without your hair," he said. "Alopecia shouldn't stand in your way."