Report: Ex-Bears receiver finishes doctorate degree originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Earl Bennett, former Chicago Bears wide receiver from 2008-13, recently earned his doctorate degree in philosophy from the higher education leadership and policy studies department at the University of Houston, according to a story done by The Athletic's Jon Greenberg.
Bennett, 35, finished his NFL career in 2013 after being released from the Bears, then the Cleveland Browns that summer, and cautiously adverting his body from cortisone shots offered for his knee. He retired from the NFL at age 27.
He finished his undergraduate degree from his alma mater, Vanderbilt University, before finishing his master's degree in 2018. Now, he's the executive director of player development and administration at Vanderbilt.
"I do most of the programming for our football players," Bennett said to The Athletic. "That's mentorship. That's internships. That's community service. That's NIL, which is a monster in itself. That's parent relations. It never ends, but it's also a lot of fun."
The story accounts Bennett's routine, which engulfed plenty of movement between his job, finishing his doctorate degree and taking care of his wife, Rekeshia, his son, Earl Jr., and his daughter, Skylah.
"We sat down and we agreed that this place will be the best for not just my professional career, but the development of our family," Bennett said. "We decided to move (to Tennessee), and everything has been amazing. … This has been the best place that we could have landed in terms of starting my executive career."
His work now is driven towards his next goal - becoming an athletic director or an NFL team president. According to the story, he has no interest in coaching or working in a front office, even though he occasionally watches tape with players.
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Bennett spent six seasons with the Bears, the only team he ever played for in the NFL. In Chicago, he played in 78 games, recording 185 career receptions for 2,277 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Now, his professional goals are arguably more admirable, as his doctoral dissertation on "Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in University Athletic Departments" would suggest.
"Our goal is to always advance society," Bennett said. "The way you do that is to push yourself into those positions to actually do it. You have to be a part of it. For me, one of my favorite quotes from Malcolm X is that you can always chase a dream, but it will never count if you never catch it. I want to catch all my dreams."
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