Pat Flynt was shocked when her son said he was going to play college football this season. But not for the most obvious reason.
“I was in shock, of course,” said the 82-year-old great-grandmother, who has worked at Wal-Mart in Brownwood for the last 22 years. “Wouldn’t you be if your son was 59, and he told you he was going to play football in college again.
“I didn’t think it could happen because of his age. I knew he was capable, physically, of doing it. He’s always kept himself fit and worked out. But I didn’t think he’d be eligible.”
Mike Flynt, 59, is eligible because athletes at NCAA Division III institutions don’t have to use their 10 long semesters — fall and spring — of athletic eligibility consecutively, as do athletes at Division I institutions. Flynt made this year’s Sul Ross State University team some 37 years after playing his junior season for the Lobos in 1970. He was kicked off the team prior to the 1971 season for fighting.
So far, Mike Flynt hasn’t played in a game for the 2-2 Lobos, but he could see his first action Saturday when Sul Ross plays Howard Payne at 1 p.m. at Gordon Wood Stadium. The timing would be perfect for Pat Flynt and approximately 25 other family members who plan to attend Saturday’s game.
“They say he is (going to play this week), but I don’t know. He’s had a pulled muscle,” said Pat, a native of England who speaks with a noticeable English accent. “I think a mother always worries about her son getting hurt, but he’s capable of taking care of himself.
“I didn’t worry about him getting hurt when he played in high school or college the first time, you know. I worry now just because of his age.”
Pat Flynt has known of her son’s regret over not playing his natural senior season at Sul Ross. Mike Flynt has called not getting to play in 1971 the biggest regret of his life.
“He always regretted it, that he was the one that messed up and that it was his own fault,” Pat Flynt said. “But it hadn’t come up in one of our conversations in years. I feel good about his decision. It’s an opportunity to finish what he wanted to do.”
Mike Flynt’s story has circulated nationwide after it was picked up by The Associated Press. Howard Payne has issued media credentials for Saturday’s game to The AP, Texas Country Reporter and the TV magazine show, “Inside Edition.” Mike appeared on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” a couple of weeks ago, there’s talk of a book and Hollywood has called about making his story into a movie.
“Now you understand that, if they do a movie, they would use his story, but it wouldn’t actually be him in the movie,” Pat Flynt explained. “That’s why they have actors. They can play any part you put down in front of them.”
As her son’s story circulated, Pat Flynt fielded questions from neighbors at Lake Brownwood, co-workers at Wal-Mart and even some of her women’s clothing customers at Wal-Mart.
“A lot of customers that I know have asked about him,” Pat said. “They think it’s great that he’s playing. They admire him for trying at 59 years old. That’s very unusual, you know.
“The neighbors are always asking if he’s going to play. I don’t mind updating them at all because they’re interested in him.”
Since getting over the initial shock that her son was eligible to play, Pat has eased into the role of a proud mother. She’s quick to point out that the apparent oldest player in college football history, Edgard Barreto of Ashland (Ohio) University, played for one play in 1997 at age 60. It’s obvious Pat Flynt expects her son to easily surpass one play.
“I’m very proud of him,” she said. “He’s my son and I knew he could do it. I knew he had the ability to try it. It takes a lot of guts to do what he did. He and his wife sold their house in Nashville (Tenn.) and moved to Alpine.
“You know some people, if you were to tell them you’re going to play football at his age, they might think you’ve lost your mind.”