It's Graduation Time for Many NFL Players

Graduation time is here, and once again, NFL players are earning their diplomas. Many of the players who earned their college degrees this spring did so through the Continuing Education Program of the NFL Player Development Department headed by NFL Vice President and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Haynes.

Denver Broncos safety Nick Ferguson earned his final 15 credits with four courses (including international marketing and African-American entrepreneurship) at Georgia Tech this spring. Ferguson, who began the semester three days after the Broncos' season ended in the playoffs, fulfilled a promise to his mother.

"It’s her degree as well," said Ferguson, who majored in management. "She deserves credit for everything I’ve accomplished.

"But I always wanted to do it. Just knowing I completed it, that is self-fulfillment."

New York Giants linebacker Jin Maxwell , who recently earned a post-graduate degree, cites his post-NFL career as his impetus.

"I realize football is not going to last forever," said Maxwell, who earned his M.B.A. at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. "I plan on playing football for as long as I can, but I definitely want to have something to fall back on. I had started my M.B.A. at Gardner-Webb and I only had two more classes, so I definitely wanted to finish that up."

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Bryant Johnson had been determined to get his degree since high school.

"It was really important because I didn’t go to school just to play football," says Johnson, who is on pace to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Penn State in August. "I went to school to get my degree and it was important to me, my family, and my college coach." 

NFL Player Development was created in 1991 by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to assist players and their families in their lives off the field.

In the past five offseasons, more than 150 players have earned their degrees through the program, with at least 175 enrolling in courses each year.

"All of our research shows that players with college degrees tend to make more money during their careers, play longer, and make better decisions," said Haynes.

NFL veterans who have earned or are expected to earn their college degrees this offseason:

PLAYER
COLLEGE MAJOR
Cleveland DB Dyshod Carter Kansas State Sociology
Denver S Nick Ferguson Georgia Tech Management
Atlanta G Kynan Forney Hawaii Sociology
St. Louis CB Kevin Garrett SMU Master of Liberal Arts
Arizona WR Bryant Johnson Penn State Sociology
NY Giants LB Jim Maxwell Gardner-Webb Master of Business Administration
Dallas LB Keith O’Neil Northern Arizona Liberal Studies
Baltimore LB Bart Scott Southern Illinois Economics
Cleveland LB Chaun Thompson West Texas A&M Recreation

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