Linebacker Bruce Irvin
Putting on a cap and gown probably feels a little different than putting on a Raiders uniform, and Saturday afternoon Bruce Irvin got to experience that first hand.
Six years ago, the now-Raiders linebacker left college early to enter the 2012 NFL Draft, and ended up becoming the No. 15 overall pick. His first four seasons in the league were spent with the Seattle Seahawks, where he totaled three interceptions, two touchdowns, seven passes defensed, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 22 sacks, and 143 tackles. Irvin compiled some quality stats during his tenure with the Seahawks, but his greatest accomplishment was winning Super Bowl XLVIII.
Hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy is no easy feat, but neither is graduating from college, something Irvin was determined to do even after leaving for the NFL.
"It's a great achievement," he said. "Ten years ago I never thought I'd graduate from college, so it's a great achievement."
Take a look back at photos from this past weekend when linebacker Bruce Irvin received his diploma from West Virginia University.
Irvin noted getting his degree in Sociology as one of the proudest moments of his life, as he became the first member in his family to ever graduate. Being an NFL player, finding time to manage schoolwork and prepare each week for games was challenging, and brought him back to being a student athlete at West Virginia University.
"It was a challenge coming in here trying to focus on the week-in and week-out, and trying to get your school work done, but it was worth it man," Irvin said with a sigh of relief. "I'll be the first one to graduate in my family, my son is going to be there, so it's big for me. It's a big moment for me right now."
The former Mountaineer, who's been very open about the obstacles he's overcome in his life, was motivated to go back and get his degree to serve as a positive role model for his son.
"It's great that he'll never have to go through the stuff that I had to go through," he said. "Being homeless, being broke, from robbing people to just trying to survive, man, it's great to see that he'll never have to do that. He can always tell people, 'my dad was not only an NFL player, but he also graduated from college.' Leading by example and having him there to see it, those are memories that last forever."
When it became public knowledge that Irvin was graduating, No. 51 received an outpouring of support from people throughout the NFL community.
Irvin has accomplished a lot during his NFL career, but this achievement stands alone.
"Just to say you got the piece of paper, regardless of what the degree was the major was, is a major accomplishment. There's very few people that can say they've graduated from college, and I'm happy to be one of the few."