In 1963, Bobby Bell left the University of Minnesota to join the Kansas City Chiefs. Now, 52 years later, he finally finished what he started and got his degree.
According to the AP, when a representative for the university asked Bell if he wanted to do media interviews in his graduation attire, he replied, “Are you serious? I waited long enough to wear these.”
When Bobby Bell left for college at the University of Minnesota, he promised his father he would prioritize his education. He managed to win a national championship and received two all-American awards during his college football career, but Bell didn’t fulfill his promise.
Instead, he left and joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 1963, where he continued to excel on the field. Bobby Bell played in the American Football League from 1963 to 1969, and then in the NFL from 1970 to 1974. He played in two Superbowls, winning in 1969, and was put in the professional football hall of fame in 1983.
For all his success, nothing was better for him than fulfilling his promise to his father, according to Yahoo News.
“This is the top of the pyramid, man,” Bell said. “This is the top of the pyramid.”
Bell returned to college as part of the Gopher Graduation Program, which has helped former athletes get their degrees since 2007.
The program was not easy for the 74-year-old Bobby Bell. The first difficulty was finding his old transcript. The university managed to locate the document, which was hand-written in pencil. It showed that the footballer was just 13 units short of finishing his degree.
He officially re-enrolled last summer, majoring in parks, recreation and leisure studies. Bell explained that when he was growing up in Shelby, North Carolina, black kids were not allowed to use the same recreational facilities as white kids, which motivated him to do the program.
Bobby Bell explained that it wasn’t easy.
“It was tough. I spent a lot of nights on the road with my iPad…. I wanted to do something I wanted to do it right. I didn’t want to be the guy to fall behind.”
He explained that he got help from former teammates on how to use new technology and made it onto the Dean’s list before graduating. He wore his hall of fame ring and the gold Bulova watch his father gave him in 1959 along with his black robes at graduation.
Bobby Bell reportedly talked about his success near the TCF Bank Stadium at the University.
“I look across the stadium over there. I want to say I am alumni now. My name is in the stadium. But I am alumni now. This is what it’s all about.”
[Image Credit: Getty Images]