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NFL Coach Earns College Degree 37 Years After He Left To Pursue Playing Career

NFL Coach Earns College Degree 37 Years After He Left To Pursue Playing Career

He kept the promise to his late mother!

Todd Bowles is a native of Elizabeth, New Jersey, WTSP news reports. He played football in college at Temple University under the leadership of coach Bruce Arians. There, he made a name for himself as a standout defensive back, signing with the then Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent in 1986. Bowles would go on to play eight seasons in the league and win a Super Bowl in 1988. When his time on the field ended, he traded in his cleats to coach.

Bowles started his coaching career serving in a variety of assistant roles before landing a job as the Miami Dolphins’ interim head coach in 2011. In 2013, his journey came full circle, reuniting with his college coach Arians who was working as head coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Bowles worked with Arians as defensive coordinator with the team before snagging his first full-time head coaching position with the New York Jets in 2015. He served for four years with the Jets before joining Arians again, this time in Tampa Bay where he became the defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers. Last year, when Arians retired, Bowles stepped into his new role as head coach of the team. 

Despite his numerous accomplishments, Bowles still had one dream yet to accomplish, earning his college degree. He had to leave Temple when he began playing in the NFL and he promised his mother Joan that he would one day return to get his college diploma. His mother has since passed but Bowles kept his promise to her, walking the stage last week to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in youth and community development from Mount St. Mary’s University. 

“My mother never said anything, she just went with it and she let me go ahead and live my life. She passed in 2009 and the only thing she asked me was to make sure I got my degree,” Bowles told the 2023 graduates. 

He didn’t make the second day of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ rookie camp to attend the ceremony but he said it was worth it, knowing that at his age he kept his word and his mom would be proud. 

“I stuck with it and here I am at 59…Class of 2023 - the future is yours, take it, grab it, run with it, be excited - be excited - every now and then come back and thank your parents,” said Bowles. 

He reflected on his journey as he addressed his fellow graduates and admitted that this moment was a big one for him. He encouraged them to never give up on themselves and take every opportunity to keep learning. 

“You’re never too old to stop learning. You stop learning and you get old. You get old when you stop learning…This is an amazing, amazing thing for me to be in a class with you. I’m more nervous now than I ever was speaking in front of a locker room at halftime,” Bowles said. 

Congratulations Coach Bowles!!

Cover photo: NFL coach earns college degree 37 years after he left to pursue playing career/Todd Bowles speaks at 215th commencement for Mount St. Mary’s University, Saturday, May 13, 2023 in Emmitsburg, MD/Photo Courtesy of Ric Dugan/The Frederick News-Post/Associated Press