Southern football alum and Super Bowl champion Joe Andruzzi arrived on campus on July 22 with a goal in mind. Twenty-three years after completing his playing career with the Owls, Andruzzi came back to Southern to receive his undergraduate degree, a milestone he had put off for years, after being recruited into the National Football League during his senior year.
The two-time All-American played for head coach Rich Cavanaugh from 1993 through the 1996 season before a 10-year career in the NFL that featured three Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots. But it always bothered him that he hadn’t received his Southern degree, and on a warm July day, with his wife, children, and parents around him, Andruzzi wore a cap and gown and was presented with his bachelor’s degree by Southern President Joe Bertolino.
In introducing Andruzzi, Bertolino said, “This is an historic occasion for Southern Connecticut State University: to welcome a Super Bowl winner back to campus to receive his degree. How often can a university president claim that honor? But as with all of our students and alumni, Joe is more to us than ‘just’ a Super Bowl winner. He is an Owl, a member of the Southern family. And today, we celebrate his many accomplishments – in particular, his receipt of his Southern degree, a notable milestone in a remarkable life.”
The anchor of the Owls’ offensive line, Andruzzi was named an All-American by the American Football Coaches Association as a junior and senior. He was also twice selected to the All-ECAC squad and captured All-New England laurels as a sophomore, junior, and senior. He served as team captain as a senior.
Following his playing days at Southern, Andruzzi spent 10 years in the NFL, first signing as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers before joining the New England Patriots, with whom he won three Super Bowl titles before becoming a member of the Cleveland Browns.
Andruzzi was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt’s lymphoma in 2007 before founding the Joe Andruzzi Foundation in 2008. He currently serves as the CEO of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, an organization that is leading the fight to tackle cancer by funding cancer research; assisting cancer institutes in achieving the highest level of patient care possible and by providing financial assistance to cancer patients and their caregivers to help ease the burden treatment places on their lives.
Before presenting Andruzzi with his diploma, Bertolino said, “We talk here at Southern about cultivating an ‘ethic of care’ — and Joe Andruzzi, you are the epitome of such an ethic. At Southern, we strive to treat others with dignity, respect, kindness, compassion, and civility — the five pillars of social justice — and Joe — you model these values every day. So today, we are proud to honor you as a member of the Southern family, and to recognize your academic work by presenting you with your degree — a recognition that is long overdue.”
Andruzzi’s degree ceremony drew considerable attention from local and regional media:
New Haven Register (Jeff Jacobs): Andruzzi achieves a new degree of success as SCSU grad
WTNH – News 8: Former Patriots and SCSU star Joe Andruzzi receives degree
SCSU Athletics: Former SCSU Football All-American Joe Andruzzi Receives Degree