Gina LynnESPN staff writer4 minutes to read
Tampa, Florida – Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles fulfilled a promise he made to his late mother, Joanne, that he would get his college degree, walking across the stage at Mount Saint Mary’s University on Saturday 37 years after he dropped out of school to enter the NFL.
Bowles missed the second day of the Buccaneers’ freshman camp to attend the ceremony in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he addressed the graduating class and received a standing ovation from the students and faculty. Bowles has a Bachelor of Science in Youth and Community Development.
He told the students, “It’s amazing and amazing for me to be in class with you.” “I’m more nervous now than I ever was in the locker room at halftime.”
The Bulls left Temple University in 1986 to enter the NFL, signed with Washington as an undrafted free agent and won Super Bowl XXII his second season. He played in the NFL for eight seasons before joining the Green Bay Packers’ starting staff from 1995 to 1996, then beginning his coaching career at Morehouse in 1997.
He has coached at the NFL level since 2000, served as the head coach of the New York Jets from 2015 to 2018, won a Super Bowl with the Pirates in 2020 as defensive coordinator, and was named the team’s head coach after Bruce Aryan retired. In 2022, leading the Bucs to the NFC South title.
“I didn’t get my degree, and my mother didn’t say anything,” Bowles told the audience. “I just went with it. And it allowed me to move on and live my life. And she passed away in 2009, and the only thing she asked of me was to make sure I got my degree.”
“I stuck with it, and here I am at 59. You never get too old to stop learning. You stop learning and you get old. You get old when you stop learning. So I tell you, class of 2023 – the future is yours, take it, hold it, run with it , and be excited, and be excited, every now and then, go back and thank your parents.”
Joan died of cancer in 2009. His agent, Tony Agnoni, a graduate of Mount Saint Mary’s, encouraged Bowles to return to school, and he completed his coursework in September.
“It was personal,” Bowles said. “It’s not the sort of deal that takes the spotlight on me.” “It’s more or less honoring my mother and making sure I kept a promise I could live with when she said something. And that’s all it really was to me. Showing my kids at the same time—with one in college, one getting ready to go to college and one on the horizon—I hope That they can get some inspiration from this and it can help them move forward.”
His eldest son, Todd Bowles Jr., is a defensive back at Rutgers University, while his son, Troy, is set to graduate from Jesuit High School in Tampa and attend the University of Georgia on a football scholarship. Tyson’s youngest is in the sixth grade.
“Todd’s success in football, both on the field and on the sidelines as a coach, is not at all surprising given his work ethic and attention to detail. These same traits were evident in his assignments,” director and associate professor at Human Services Timothy Wolfe said in a statement.
“It’s clear that a successful NFL coach doesn’t need to do the extra work required to complete a bachelor’s degree, but Todd is clearly someone who keeps his promises and finishes what he starts.”
“Infuriatingly humble internet trailblazer. Twitter buff. Beer nerd. Bacon scholar. Coffee practitioner.”
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