Two and a half decades and six hours later, Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn will be able to call himself a college graduate.
Lynn, about to start his second season as the Chargers coach, has a date in Las Vegas on Saturday to pick up his bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies from UNLV.
When Lynn left Texas Tech 25 years ago to pursue his pro career, he was six hours short of his degree.
“Football has always been my No. 1 priority,” Lynn told ESPN. “Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad. But I chose football over education, and I kind of did that a few years later when I had a chance to go back; I chose football again over education.
“And so at this time, I thought at some point, no more excuses — just go back and get it done.”
He told his team about his plans in April, although he hadn’t initially intended to be making the stroll across the stage.
“I just wanted my papers,” Lynn said. “Mail me my damn diploma, I give it to my mom and I’m done.
“When I told my counselor, when I told her what my plans were, she’d just assumed that I was walking the whole time. I never assumed I was walking. The disappointment on her face when I told her I wasn’t coming, it was tough. I thought about it. She made me re-think it. I decided to walk, because if it could inspire one person, then it’s worth it.”
One person who found inspiration was Chargers tight end Hunter Henry, who wasn’t even born when Lynn left Texas Tech for the NFL.
Henry left Arkansas before getting his degree, but has resumed work on getting his diploma.
“It’s really cool, especially sometimes I think you can get lost as it can be all ball,” Henry told the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s all about football sometimes,” Henry added. “This just shows that coach Lynn cares about us off the field and not just as players, and is showing what he talks about with us. He’s doing it, too. That’s huge. It gives me reassurance in case I have to go on campus during an offseason. I’m four or five classes away. I know he’ll support me, and that means a lot.”
Lynn said the idea of getting his degree took root in 2014, during his time as an assistant coach for the New York Jets.
Team chaplain Dave Szott told Lynn how he went back to earn his college degree 15 years after he had attended college, and he persuaded Lynn to do the same.
It finally began in the spring of 2017, just after the Chargers hired him as head coach. Lynn began taking online courses, and his professors worked with him to complete those courses throughout the summer because of his school-year conflict with football.
—Field Level Media