Joe Andruzzi has three Super Bowl rings from his years as a New England Patriot, but getting his college diploma is at the top of the list of his many accomplishments.
On Monday, the former NFL star was in Connecticut to get his degree from Southern Connecticut State University.
Andruzzi played college football at SCSU from 1993-1996, where he had a decorated career, then pursued a pro-football career and played for the NFL for 10 years as a member of the Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots.
His playing career ended after he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Andruzzi said he was about to start his 11th year in the NFL and had a stomach ache that proceeded to get worse. In May 2007, he was diagnosed with cancer and went to Boston for treatment. Now he is cancer-free.
Andruzzi said receiving his diploma ranks near the top of a long list of accomplishments.
“What myself and and my teammates did years ago, to accomplish something that not many people get to do and also having a degree, and holding that up with my rings and being able to know what I accomplished with my life to this point is an amazing feeling," he said.
Andruzzi also started the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which helps fund cancer research and assists cancer patients. He said the foundation helped its 10,000th person a couple months ago.
"All these accolades that I received in football didn't mean much to me in 2007 when I was sick. My three Super Bowl rings, I cherish them, but they were put aside. I was battling for my life and now I am helping those that are battling for their life," Andruzzi said.
Andruzzi and his foundation were at a watch party to cheer on the foundation's running team at the Boston Marathon in 2013 when the bombs went off and a photo of him carrying a woman after the blast became one of the icon images from that tragic day.
"Our watch party was the second bomb site. When we found that out, my heart was in my throat and we didn't know what was going on," Andruzzi said.
Andruzzi said his wofe point out three young girls carrying a woman, so he ran over to help and picked her.
"You don't think. You just react. That's just who I am," Andruzzi said. "I guess it's instilled in me."
His father was a New York City police officer and his brothers are New York firefighters.
Andruzzi added that he did receive a fourth Super Bowl ring from the Patriots in 2014 after doing some work with the team.