MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Star University of Minnesota running back Marion Barber Jr. left the university in 1981 for the NFL, but never earned his degree.
At age 57, Barber, who played with the New York Jets, has finished his course work and has graduated with a degree in youth services, KARE-TV (http://kare11.tv/2qanwyQ ) reported. Barber said his wife, Karen, encouraged him to finish the schooling he began three decades ago.
''The two things I'm most proud of: I have perfect attendance and I'm graduating with honors,'' he said. ''I tell the students I've been on a 36-year spring break, however, I wouldn't recommend they take that long of a break to come back and get it done.''
He said graduating fulfills a promise he made before hitting any football records.
''I made a promise to my mother,'' he said. ''I've been crying. A lot happy tears of course. Excited to make that walk.''
Barber's mother wasn't able to attend the ceremony but sent him a text Thursday morning to congratulate him on a job well done.
His youngest son, Thomas Barber, said education has always come first in their household. He and his brothers wouldn't be allowed to play sports if they earned anything below a B.
Marion Barber now works with students in the special education department at Armstrong High School, where he is also on the coaching staff for the football team. He said an internship last fall helped him land the full-time job.
''I've always felt I would be a better coach and a teacher than I was a player,'' Marion Barber said.
Information from: KARE-TV, http://www.kare11.com