Leon Lett is probably remembered best for two monumental gaffes on the field.
The first occurred during the Dallas Cowboys’ 52-17 whipping of the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII. Lett recovered a fumble, started for the end zone and, while high-stepping with the ball extended behind him, was stripped by Don Beebe.
The second, of course, was Lett’s attempted recovery of a missed field goal that should have sealed a 14-13 Dallas victory over Miami on a snowy Thanksgiving day in Dallas in 1993. The rest, as they say, is history; Dolphins recovered the ball, retried the field goal and, this time, made it to defeat Dallas 16-14. The game was listed as the third most memorable in Texas Stadium history.
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But these incidents only muddy what was an otherwise outstanding career for the “Big Cat.” Lett was a two-time Pro Bowl selection, and a three time Super Bowl champion as a member of Dallas’ vaunted defense in the early nineties.
And, as of Saturday, Lett can add “college graduate” to his already illustrious resume.
Fulfilling a promise to his mother, Lett will complete his degree in university studies, with a concentration in sociology and history, from the UNLV College of Liberal Arts.
"I was the only child in my family to not have a college degree so this is something I’ve promised my mom that I would do," said Lett. "I also do a lot of public speaking in schools and I want to be a role model for these kids. I get a lot of questions about education and now I can say that I graduated from college."
Lett will look to use his degree to return to the game of football, as a coach. He cites Andre Patterson, a former position coach for Dallas who recently joined the staff at UNLV, as an influence in his decision to return.
"I ran into some of my old NFL teammates and friends who are now coaching. We started talking football and it felt really good. But I knew I needed to finish my college degree to get involved."
Lett will be part of UNLV’s Spring Commencement ceremonies at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday in Las Vegas. His mother, Rachel Lett, will be in attendance.
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