Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker/defensive end Bobby Bell earned his degree and graduated from the University of Minnesota on Thursday at age 74.
Bell fulfilled a promise he made to his late father, graduating 53 years after he played his final collegiate season for the Gophers. He left for a professional football career needing nine credits to receive his degree and explained to KCChiefs.com how he kept not prioritizing a return to school over the years
"What happened is I kept putting it off," Bell said. "I would say 'maybe next fall. Next spring I'll go back and get my degree.' I had a few credits left and I kept putting it off. Then the next thing I know, I'm opening up restaurants and stuff. Then I started working."
Bell said once he took the plunge and took a social science class on immigration he "got right into it."
A Super Bowl champion, Bell was drafted by the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs in 1963. In 1970 the team moved to the NFL, with Bell playing in Kansas City until 1974.
Bell, who earned a degree in parks and recreation, received a standing ovation at the commencement ceremony.
"I really wanted to dance across the stage," he said. "So many people here touched me and they were on the stage. The faculty members, all of them, came up in the back to shake my hand. They grabbed me; they hugged me."
- Molly Geary