59-year-old NFL coach graduates from college, fulfills promise to late mother

Bowles missed the second day of the Buccaneers’ rookie camp to attend the ceremony.

TAMPA, Fla. — Todd Bowles kept a promise to his late mother and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach is now a college graduate.

The 59-year-old Bowles walked across the stage at Mount St. Mary’s University on Saturday to receive his diploma after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in youth and community development.

Bowles missed the second day of the Buccaneers’ rookie camp to attend the ceremony, knowing his mother Joan would be proud of him for completing his degree 37 years after he left Temple to begin his playing career in the NFL.

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

“I stuck with it and here I am at 59. You’re never too old to stop learning. 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.”

Bowles, entering his second season as coach of the Buccaneers, was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and played college football at Temple under coach Bruce Arians. The defensive back signed with Washington as an undrafted free agent in 1986 and played eight seasons in the NFL — winning a Super Bowl in 1988.

Bowles turned to coaching after his playing career ended, serving in a variety of assistant roles with several NFL teams before becoming the Miami Dolphins’ interim head coach in 2011. He reunited with Arians, who was the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach, in 2013 as the defensive coordinator before getting his first full-time gig as a head coach with the New York Jets in 2015.

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After four seasons with New York, he joined Arians’ staff in Tampa Bay — again as the defensive coordinator — before taking over as the Buccaneers’ head coach last year when Arians retired.

“This is an amazing, amazing thing for me to be in a class with you,” Bowles said while speaking to the graduating class. “I’m more nervous now than I ever was speaking in front of a locker room at halftime.”

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