Former Buffalo Bills and current Pittsburgh Steelers Outside Linebacker Arthur Nathan Moats III completed his Master of Arts in Community and Economic Development, with an advanced graduate certificate in social entrepreneurship, at SUNY Empire State College’s commencement event Saturday, June 3, in Buffalo, N.Y.
“I am elated and overjoyed,” said Moats. “I have my family here with me, it’s a very special day. I think about all the years, hard work and countless hours that went into completing a master’s. Now I have reached the pinnacle and I’m extremely proud.”
Moats’ wife, Shonda, two daughters, Kaylor and Ava, and son, Grey, were on hand to watch as he was presented with his academic hood and college medallion.
The eight-year NFL veteran first enrolled with SUNY Empire in the fall of 2013 while playing for the Bills and he completed his master’s online.
“My program was 100 percent online,” said Moats. “We communicated through video conferences, phone calls, emails and things like that. Online learning was the most feasible and easiest way for me to learn, especially with my career starting in Buffalo and then moving to Pittsburgh.
“Online learning was one thing I loved about Empire State College. The college offered the type of master’s program I was interested in online, and that made it so special for me.”
Moats’ motivation to complete his master’s included his future professional goals after his career in the NFL, and his desire to set an example for his children and young people in general.
In terms of setting an example he said, “The biggest thing was just showing young people the importance of school and getting an education.”
Moats said that telling his children – and the young people he meets at his personal and community charitable events and when visiting schools as a representative of his team and the league – about the importance of education is one thing, doing what it takes to complete a bachelor’s and master’s, is another, “… it shows that not only am I saying it, but I am doing it. I am a man of my word.”
He noted a better education leads to better wages and benefits when entering the workforce, “A master’s opens more doors for me from a professional standpoint.”
Moats incorporated the 12-credit graduate certificate in social entrepreneurship into his community and economic development master’s and his graduate research and thesis examined the effects of small business in Allegheny County, Pa.
Throughout his career in the NFL, Moats has been active with a number of community and charitable organizations.
He supports the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club in McKeesport, Penn., where he took 20 teens shopping at American Eagle Outfitters for apparel they otherwise would not been able to afford.
For the past two years Moats and his family have supported the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh, a passion that started with a simple visit to spend time with the kids and their families. Now a member of its board of directors, his commitment has grown into regular visits, where he is always uplifting the spirits of those there and providing encouragement and a diversion where it is needed most.
“I do a lot of work with nonprofits,” he said. “A master’s will help me better understand how nonprofits work and what makes them successful. I’m also interested in the NFL’s player engagement program.”
Commonly referred to as player development, Moats said that the NFL hires professionals to assist athletes in transitioning into the league, remaining in the league and then transitioning out into the role of NFL alumnus, furthering their personal interests into a new career or both.
“A master’s degree provides me with a comprehensive understanding of how to help people and organizations improve, and it gives me a big advantage when competing for the types of positions I am interested in after my playing career,” said Moats.
The Steelers nominated Moats for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for 2016, the second time Moats has been nominated for the league’s most prestigious individual honor.
In 2013, he was the Bills’ nomination for the Payton award, which recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field. That year, he also was the recipient of the Bills’ Ed Block Courage Award, which recognizes a player who exemplifies a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. The recipient symbolizes professionalism, great strength, dedication and serves as a community role model for others.
Moats grew up in Portsmouth, Va., and earned his bachelor’s in political science at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va., in 2012.