It took nearly four decades, but a promise was a promise for Todd Bowles.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach missed rookie minicamp Saturday to receive a college degree from Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, fulfilling a 37-year-old promise to his mother. He reportedly completed his work last September for a Bachelor of Science degree in youth and community development.
Bowles’ mother, Joan, died of cancer in 2009. His longtime agent, Anthony Agnone, is a Mount St. Mary’s alumnus and set up his return in 2020, taking online courses while working as Buccaneers defensive coordinator, then head coach.
Bowles left Temple University in 1986 to pursue a playing career in the NFL, which lasted eight seasons before he retired and made the move to coaching.
Speaking with reporters after graduating, Bowles didn’t hide the meaning of the moment to himself:
“It’s personal. It’s not a limelight type of deal for me. It’s more or less honoring my mother and making sure I kept a promise that I could live with when she says something. And that’s really all it was for me, and showing my kids at the same time with one in college and one getting ready to go to college and another one on the horizon, hopefully they get some inspiration from this and that can help them as they go forward.”
The 59-year-old Bowles is entering his second season as Bucs head coach, having led them to an 8-9 record last year to in the final season of Tom Brady’s career. He previously spent four seasons as head coach of the New York Jets and worked as an interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins.