It’s been more than 35 years since Marion Barber Jr. made plays in a Minnesota football uniform. This week, he’ll be back in Minneapolis to suit up in a graduation gown.
Barber, now 57, will earn his degree in youth studies from Minnesota and walk in a graduation ceremony Thursday, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The diploma will fulfill a promise he made to his mother when he was a teenager.
“It’s been a thorn in my side for a lot of years,” he told the Star Tribune. “In some regards, I felt like a hypocrite for promoting education with young people and not having the credentials to back what I say.”
Barber was a second-round pick in the 1981 NFL Draft, and the running back played in the NFL with the New York Jets until 1988.
Barber left Minnesota as the program’s all time leader in yards (3,094) and rushing touchdowns (34). All three of his sons ― former NFL players Marion III and Dominique, and Thomas, currently a Gophers LB ― played for Minnesota.
This week, he’ll add one diploma to his Minnesota stat sheet, and it’s been a long time coming for Barber.
“Coming to Minnesota was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me in my life,” Barber told the Star Tribune. “Now completing this degree adds to that list of greatest moments in my life.”