Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach Todd Bowles Graduates College at Age 59: 'You're Never Too Old'

Bowles fulfilled a promise to his late mother Joan by earning his undergrad degree 37 years after leaving college for the NFL

Ric Dugan/The Frederick News-Post via AP Todd Bowles
Ric Dugan/The Frederick News-Post via AP Todd Bowles

Todd Bowles made his mother proud this weekend.

Nearly four decades after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach first left college to join the NFL, he officially graduated and fulfilled a long-standing promise to his late mother that he'd one day earn his degree.

Bowles, 59, received a Bachelor of Science degree in youth and community development, according to ESPN.

The NFL coach, clad in a black graduation gown, sported an enormous smile as he walked across the stage at Mount St. Mary's University on Saturday to receive his degree. The three-time Super Bowl champion received a loud cheer from the students, families and university staff in attendance, who he also addressed in a speech during the ceremony.

"This is an amazing, amazing thing for me to be in a class with you," Bowles said. "I'm more nervous now than I ever was speaking in a locker room at halftime."

Bowles attended Temple University but left the school in 1986 to join the NFL as an undrafted free agent.

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Ric Dugan/The Frederick News-Post via AP From left: Timothy Trainor, Todd Bowles
Ric Dugan/The Frederick News-Post via AP From left: Timothy Trainor, Todd Bowles

As a player, Bowles had an eight-year career and won the Super Bowl with Washington in 1987. He later won a second Super Bowl while on staff with Green Bay in 1996, and most recently won his first Super Bowl as a coach in 2020 when he was the defensive coordinator for Tampa Bay.

Bowles was promoted to head coach last year.

But more recently, Bowles had been quietly working towards earning his undergrad degree, finishing his coursework last September. Graduating college was a promise Bowles said he made to his mother Joan, who died from cancer in 2009, and something he wanted to do to inspire his own three children, Todd Jr., Troy and Tyson.

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Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Todd Bowles
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Todd Bowles

"I didn't get my degree, and my mother never said anything," Bowles told his younger classmates in his speech this weekend. "She just went with it. And she let me go ahead and live my life. And she passed in 2009, and the only thing she asked me was to make sure I got my degree."

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Bowles said he "stuck with it, and here I am at 59."

"You're never too old to stop learning," he told the students. "You stop learning and you get old. You get old when you stop learning. So I say to you, 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."

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