August 24, 2011
In between playing football and earning All-America honors on the track, Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Hughes(notes) got a nursing degree during his college days at Alcorn State. Other than the multiple classes, long days of practice, longer hours studying, three weekly eight-hour shifts at the hospital and the 70-mile roundtrip he had to make between nursing school and the football field, it was a breeze.
The NFL hopeful kept his nursing degree active during three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars by taking continuing education courses. In his 2009 rookie season, he had five catches and one touchdown in his rookie season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Hughes spent last season on injured reserve before getting signed as a roster longshot by the Lions.
During this summer's lockout, Hughes took a job as an on-call nurse in his hometown of Macon, Miss. He plans to go to anesthesiology school whenever his football career ends.
"I think part of the reason why I've been able to succeed on the football field is because once I get to football practice, it's my avenue to let all of that go. [...] Football is my happy place, so when I got to football practice it's like, 'OK, I'm free of all the work, I can just go have fun.' It made me look at football totally different. I didn't look at football as work, I looked at football as play. I looked at nursing as work because you'd have times you'd have to read 12, 13 chapters a night and have a test on it the next day."
Twelve or 13 chapters a night? I'd feel safe wagering that a number of NFL players made it through college without reading 12 or 13 chapters in total. (NFL bloggers too.)
Hughes told the newspaper that his teammates in Detroit don't know he's a registered nurse but that players in Jacksonville would often call him in the middle of the night to diagnose their ailments.
Despite a touchdown in the Lions' first preseason game, Hughes is considered a stretch to make the team's final roster. Given the team's rash of injuries this preseason, perhaps they could find another way to utilize one of his many talents.
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