The NFL offers a tuition-reimbursement program for current and former players who want to further their education in the offseason or after retirement, and at least two Redskins players are taking advantage of the opportunity to get degrees.
Running back Roy Helu Jr., who had an undergrad degree from the University of Nebraska, is looking to pursue a master’s degree with help from the NFL’s program.
“I’m looking at some online courses and trying to see what exactly I’m going to take,” Helu told me. “But I’m definitely trying to take advantage of that. It would be silly not to take the help, especially those of us who aren’t making the big money.”
Helu isn’t exactly sure what degree he’ll pursue yet, but the devout Christian is leaning towards religious studies.
“I’m looking for some type of theological doctrine, or something like that,” he said. “I think right now I just am interested in learning about the Bible more. It’ll be interesting. It’s my first time doing it, but I’m just looking for some formal education.”
The program is available to current players with at least one credited season and to former players with five credited seasons, one of which has to be 2006 or later. Fullback Darrel Young started his master’s degree in sports management two years ago and is trying to finish it using the reimbursement program.
“I want to be an athletic director, or work with kids somehow,” said Young, who told me his NFL experience makes him uniquely qualified to help young athletes. “I figure being in this business and making the transition from high school to college, college to the real world, being cut, being at the high of it, I feel like I can prepare people to understand and what can happen, the good and the bad. Whatever it is. Being in football has taught me how to deal with adversity and I can pass that on.”
Young knows that his football career isn’t guaranteed. He told me that in order to be stable for a family one day, he has to start thinking ahead.
“As you can see, you never know,” said Young, talking about the Redskins coaching situation. “When a coach changes, everything changes. You need a backup plan. Just because I’m living this now, doesn’t mean anything. You never know what’s going to happen, so you have to prepare for the future.”