Tweeted out today by Miami of Ohio, @MiamiRedHawks: Congratulations to @steelers QB #BigBen Roethlisberger on receiving his #MiamiU degree today
Here's an article from USA today about it.
Here's a picture you don't see every commencement. The new graduate, smiling with family, holds up his diploma in his right hand. On the same hand — the championship ring from Super Bowl XLIII.
Now on the stage, receiving his certificate, Benjamin T. Roethlisberger.
"How could I tell my children one day how important an education is, if I didn't have one?" Roethlisberger explained. "This is pretty special to me. I'm proud to not just say I'm an alum. Now I'm a graduate."
That's why he was here Sunday morning, marching with 600 fellow classmates in the Miami School of Education, Health & Society. Just another guy in a red gown and white sash, walking slowly in to Pomp and Circumstance, then taking his seat in the ninth row. All this, nine years after he left Oxford for the Steelers.
Most of the assembly didn't know Roethlisberger was coming. When he suddenly appeared in the lineup with his class, the cell phones quickly came out and the texting began.
"I'm going to be sitting there thinking, 'When I was in college, this person (next to him) was probably in middle school,' " Roethlisberger said before the ceremony. "I'm going to be the old man out there, but it's worth it.' "
Worth it, because he promised his parents in 2003, when he left Miami four credits short for the NFL, that one day he would graduate.
Lots of pro-bound athletes say that, but how many end up meaning it? A career gets in the way. Money gets in the way. Life gets in the way. In this case, winning two Super Bowls got in the way.
"I had every intention," he said of graduating. "Actually, I didn't think it'd take this long."
Roethlisberger's autumns have been kind of busy. And something always seemed to prevent him from enrolling in time for the winter term. AFC Championship Games, for instance.
But the Steelers were quick outs against Denver the past season — consult any Tim Tebow fan for details — and the morning after the defeat, his Miami academic advisor sent him an email. Roethlisberger figured it was a note of condolence. Instead, it was a call to class.
Roethlisberger was in the red zone for his diploma. Time to get it done.
"He responded in less than 20 minutes," said Melissa Chase, associate dean. "He never asked for a shortcut. It was always, 'What do I need to do?' He did everything we asked of him.
"I know this was always a very important goal for him."
What they asked of him at the end included a paper on Tibet. "Which I knew nothing about it," he said. Analyzing the New England defense was never like this. But luckily wife Ashley, with two degrees, makes a swell study buddy. He ended up with an A, and possibly more knowledge of Tibet than any quarterback in the NFL.
Done and done. Sunday would be a fine early Mother's Day present.
"Nine years later," Roethlisberger said, "we finally got it. … When I told my parents, my mom teared up."
There was never a question of not marching. This day was for the family. Audrey Roethlisberger's first reaction at seeing her grandson in a graduation gown? "It fits."
The NFL has its brightly-lit, center-stage emotions. There's something more quaint about a graduate glowing at commencement, even one wearing a small jewelry store on his right hand. Roethlisberger has not had many better days that did not include touchdown passes.
"To me, this is as just as big, if not bigger, than winning the Super Bowl. This is the Super Bowl in life.''
So when's the work start on the master's degree?
"I'm done writing papers.''