New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is intent on completing his college degree at Penn State, even though there appears to be no financial reason for him to do so. Barkley left Happy Valley after three seasons as a Nittany Lion, and short of picking up his degree in communications.
After being taken second overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, he signed a four-year, $31 million contract — receiving $15 million of that figure up front. He has said he intends to invest his NFL salary and live off endorsement deals. Despite being a rookie, he has already been featured in television commercials for high-profile companies like Nike, Visa, Dunkin and Circle K.
So from a money perspective, the 21-year-old appears to be set for life. But picking up the degree has nothing to do with making money.
In a first-person article for The Players’ Tribune, Barkley said he will get his degree to send a message to his baby daughter, Jada.
Referring to himself as a “college dropout,” Barkley wrote, “I’m serious. That’s what it feels like. I left school early to enter the draft, and even though I know it was the right decision for my football career and my future, I still get people who ask me what I got my degree in, or what year I graduated. And it makes me uncomfortable because … I don’t like my answer.”
The reply, obviously, is that he has yet to graduate, and Barkley said, “I hate having to answer that way.”
But he insists that will all change in time.
“So as soon as I can, I’m going to go back to Penn State to finish my degree,” he wrote. “And when I do, I’m going to walk across that stage, hold my degree up high, and then go home and hang it on my wall to show my daughter that I accomplished something great.
“To show her that daddy is much more than just a football player,” he concluded.
The long piece is well worth a read. While Barkley touches on many aspects of his life that have been reported elsewhere — boxing as a youngster, his parents moving the family from Brooklyn to Pennsylvania for the good of the children, the birth of his daughter — he adds many personal details you probably have not read before.
Likewise, he also revisits his after-football plans to put that degree in communications to use in some sort of capacity as an on-air analyst.
“Anybody who knows me will tell you, I love to argue,” he wrote. “I love to debate. And football is the thing I know better than anything else. So sure, I can’t play football forever.
“But I can talk about it forever,” he added.