ALPINE, Texas - Mike Flynt waited 37 years to get back on a college football field. Once he did, he was part of his team’s winning play.
Playing left end on kicking plays, the 59-year-old grandfather held his own all night, most importantly during the field goal that gave Sul Ross State a 45-42 victory over Texas Lutheran in three overtimes Saturday night.
With his wife, three kids, grandson and a legion of new fans watching, Flynt kept his defender from getting into the backfield when it mattered most, then turned, jumped and pumped his fist. He wound up lost in a team-wide pile celebrating their second straight win in extra periods.
“We won this tonight for each other; that’s what matters,” Flynt said. “I’m glad my family was able to be part of this and see this. That’s important to me personally. From a team standpoint, it’s their victory.”
His joy was evident during a postgame gathering on the field. As the coach spoke, Flynt couldn’t stop grinning.
“I’ve been at a lot of great schools and experienced a lot of this stuff,” said Flynt, who was a strength coach at Nebraska, Oregon and Texas A&M. “These guys, they’re learning every bit of this.”
Flynt got in for nine snaps, including one waived off by penalty. He stood up his rusher several times and got in a nice chip block once. Out of respect or admiration, opposing coach Dennis Parker never tried taking advantage of the old man. Yes, Flynt is two years older than Parker and eight years older than his own coach.
Afterward, Flynt went to the player he blocked most of the night to shake his hand.
“I just told him he played a great game,” Flynt said. “He was always talking, always coming hard. I appreciate that.”
Flynt was kicked out of school during two-a-days in 1971. A team captain at the time, he never got over letting down his friends. He mentioned that to the guys during a reunion this summer and one of them basically dared him to come back. Discovering he was eligible, Flynt did, only to miss the first five games because of a groin injury and pinched nerve in his neck.
While he’s giving new meaning to being a college “senior,” Flynt is not the oldest player ever. There was a 60-year-old for Ashland (Ohio) in 1997, but that guy went in for one snap late in a blowout. Flynt is truly part of his Division III team, with expectations to eventually get in at his old position, linebacker. The Lobos have four games left and he expects to play in them all.
He should if he’s healthy, and he came out of this one feeling fine.
“I’ve enjoyed every bit of this,” he said. “Stepping out on the field was kind of the exclamation point.”
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
All six members of his immediate family, even 1½-year-old grandson Collin, screamed before, during and after the play. As Flynt ran back to the sideline, a fist pump showed his thrill.
“Awesome, awesome, awesome,” said his oldest daughter, Delanie Flynt-Swanson. Then she turned to Collin, her son, and said, “You’re grandpa just played football!”
“How many other grandpas can say that?” Micah said.
“None. Zero,” she said.
Eileen Flynt was watching her husband play for the first time, having met him after college.
“I wasn’t nervous,” she said. “It was just exciting. I thought I was going to be nervous.”
She probably got that from her husband, who woke up ready to go.
“He slept better than the rest of us,” she said, laughing.
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