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Cornell Was Just the Beginning for Kevin Boothe

Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report. 

Boothe went from being an NCAA athlete to a two-time Super Bowl champion, all while maintaining his grades and setting the foundation for his future family.

As 18-year-olds, people head to college looking forward to the new phase in life. Rarely does college lead to fame. Kevin Boothe, two-time Super Bowl winning and highly awarded college athlete, started his football and personal career at Cornell University.

Born in Queens, NY, and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Boothe attended a small private school which seldom produced college athlete prospects. He took four college recruitment visits at schools with reputable hospitality programs, Cornell being the first, and had a gut feeling that Ithaca was where he belonged. Boothe quickly connected with the players on the team and with the coaches, which made him ultimately decide to join the Big Red family.

Upon arrival, Boothe moved into his dorm in Mary Donlon Hall, the freshman dorm known for being the most social. He said that it was “definitely an adjustment, not Mary Donlon specifically,  just an adjustment to college life and being independent”. It takes some time to get into the rhythm of being a student-athlete and that was a hard skill for Boothe to acquire.

Although Boothe came to Cornell excited to play on the team, he broke his ankle at the end of his senior year in High school and entered college out of shape and overweight. He stayed on the team as a redshirt (when a player is withdrawn from playing to enhance his skills for a year) his first year due to an ankle surgery. The surgery solved an old fracture that had only gotten worse.

This sequence of events led Boothe to make the decision to graduate a semester late and play in one more season. Therefore, he started in four out of five seasons. Boothe always assumed he would be good enough to play in college and believed he had the skills to play professionally. He explained that he thought he “would be able to play this game for a while and ultimately at the highest level”.

Boothe’s favorite memory off the field was in one of his Hotel School classes where he had to manage a class-run restaurant. It was difficult but meaningful and he saw what it was like to own his own restaurant for a night.

His favorite memory on the field was his last game ever played at Cornell which was the final game of the 2005 season at Franklin Field against University of Pennsylvania. Cornell won! Two years prior on that same field, they had their worst defeat there 59-7. Beating them was not only a success, but it also meant that Boothe defeated, at least once, every Ivy team.

Not only did Boothe play football at Cornell, but he was a superb Hotel School student and met his wife through their shared major. He and his wife were friends all throughout school but only started to date during their junior year.

On the field, Boothe claims his “driving factor is to be [his] best”. When he was around guys that he appreciated, he saw how much hard work they had put into the program and it helped push him to be greater. Boothe’s team was so close that they remain a tight-knit group to this day. He said it is “comical to have a group of guys in their mid-thirties with families and kids at home in group texts”.

Something that always stuck with Boothe was when his first offensive line coach, John Strollo, said, “Hey, you know what? Make them (opponents) respect you.” Boothe committed to following through on that statement in every game.

When it came time for him to see if he would be drafted in the NFL, he received a call from what he thought was his favorite team, the 49ers, but the TV displaying the draft  lagged and he actually got picked up by the Oakland Raiders. Soon after, he transferred over to the Giants.

In the NFL everyone was “faster, stronger, bigger” and only the “smartest stayed around.” It became a full-time job and not just a game of leisure, and Boothe played for many years. Boothe’s positions changed from offensive tackle to right tackle, to trading off with left tackle. In the first Super Bowl, he played as the left tackle, but generally his position depended on the team’s needs.

Winning the Super Bowl twice was an amazing experience for Boothe; it was what every football player dreams of. Both games victories were against the New England Patriots, led by the famous Tom Brady. Although in the first game he didn’t play much, Boothe felt the experience to be “surreal to the point where after the game [he] did not know what to do.” He locked himself in the locker room then went back onto the field to still check if it was true. He promised himself that if he won again he would cherish the moment and not get confused. That second chance came for him.

The second game he stayed on the field the entire time. Afterwards, he and his pregnant wife stayed up the whole night in the hotel watching ESPN, while Boothe tried to convince himself that he wasn’t dreaming.

Today, Boothe works for the NFL in sponsorship trying to secure sponsors for the league. He thinks that Cornell prepared him immensely for life both during his football career and after. At Cornell, he learned the balance of academics and athletics while his experiences in the classroom and exposure to business people prepared him for life after football.

He feels “blessed to play for nine years” and had an amazing career. The sky’s the limit for Boothe!


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