BOSTON (CBS) — Patriots offensive lineman Ted Karras has a simple attitude when it comes to football and his education.
“Yeah it’s unbelievable. Since you start getting good at football, everyone seems to want to pay for your schools,” he said. “So I feel like I should take full advantage of that while I can.”
Get this: The 25-year-old earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois in only three-and-a-half years, and continued on to get his master’s degree in communication. But it was something that was said during his first NFL season that sent him back to school.
“Yeah I just heard about it — we have a lot of rookie on-boarding meetings and it was mentioned at the end and I thought I would jump right over that,” Karras said.
Turns out, since 2002, the NFL has had a Player Tuition Assistance Plan, and it credits current players up to $20,000 per year to help them further their education. So in his downtime, Karras is in front of the computer, taking classes.
“That’s the great part — it’s online,” Karras said. “So I take my laptop with me whenever I travel. It’s a decent amount of work, but if you schedule your time out, you can do a little before bed, every now and then.”
The offensive lineman doesn’t enroll in classes during the football season, and he’s quick to answer which grades — for now — he holds with importance.
“I hold more weight in Coach [Bill] Belichick’s grades on me, as that is my profession. But I do take the grades very seriously,” he said. “I’ve been doing pretty good, I’ve got over a 3.0 [GPA]. So I’m feeling good about it.”
To stay in the program, all who have enrolled must keep a C average in each class, so Karras is good there. And he shares a trait with many incoming freshmen: Right now, he’s undecided on life after football.
“I’m hoping throughout this school that I can figure it out with connections,” he said. “That’s one of my goals. I wrote it on my cover letter when I applied. I don’t know what I want to do afterwards but I hope this will open my eyes and carve a path to something I didn’t know existed.”
Ted Karras isn’t the only Patriots player taking advantage of the NFL’s Tuition Assistance Plan. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, long snapper Joe Cardona, fellow offensive lineman Joe Thuney and former Pats long snapper Danny Aiken are all also involved in the program as well.