Commentary

Picture Day provides another highlight for 59-year-old college athlete

Updated: October 8, 2007, 7:06 PM ET
By Mike Flynt | For The Associated Press

Editor's note: Mike Flynt is a 59-year-old grandfather who has returned to his alma mater, Sul Ross State, to play the senior season of football he lost when he was kicked out of school for fighting 37 years ago. This is the second of a weekly series of updates, as told to AP Sports Writer Jaime Aron, on what it's like being the ultimate "senior" in college football.

ALPINE, Texas (AP) -- The wait for my first tackle since Richard Nixon was president sure is getting tough. And with no game to play this weekend, I might really get antsy -- if I didn't have another great reason to put on the pads this week.

Picture Day is Thursday and my teammates already have ensured that it's going to be special for me.

I've known all along how much they respect me for coming back to college and for the things I've done for them. But their feelings really came through loud and clear on Monday when coach Steve Wright told me that everyone wants to have their picture made with me.

How cool is that?

Coach even called it "a high-water mark in this program."

I'm honored that they want pictures to remember our time together. Nothing would give me more pleasure. In fact, once I realized how long it's probably going to take, I called the producers of Jim Rome's TV show and rescheduled an interview we had planned for Thursday afternoon.

There is a bright side to not having a game this week -- more time to get my body ready for the second half of the season.

Our next game is a week from Saturday, at home, against Texas Lutheran. I am confident that I will be ready to go. So confident that my three kids already have bought their plane tickets to come see their old man try again.

Micah, Delanie (and her 1-year-old son, Collin) and Lily all live in Tennessee, but they went to Brownwood last weekend to visit their grandmother, my mom, Pat, and to see our game against Howard Payne. We won in two overtimes, but I didn't play.

Part of the reason was that in warmups I aggravated a groin injury that kept me out of the first two games. I was worried what this might do to the rest of my season -- until Sunday, when I only had a little pain. On Monday, I was able to jog and lift weights. Then on Tuesday I went to a doctor in Odessa and, boy, am I glad that I did.

Turns out, what we thought was a groin injury was really a torn lower-abdominal muscle that manifested the pain in the groin area. And I didn't aggravate anything. It was just some scar tissue getting ripped away. That explains the quick recovery, and it bodes well for my chances of playing against Texas Lutheran, and the four games after that.

The doctor I saw didn't know me or my story. After I showed him my bruises and explained where it was hurting, he asked how it happened. The rest of the conversation went something like this:

Me: It was through two-a-days, during a drill we were doing.
Doc: Whoa? Two-a-days? (Then he grabbed my file and looked at my age.) Do you play football? At 59 years old?!
Me: Yes sir. I went back for my senior year and made the team.
Doc: Well, I can help you with this abdomen, but you need to go somewhere else to get your head examined.

We had a good laugh and he ended up wishing me the best and offering more help if I ever need it. No offense, doc, but I hope to never see you again, at least not professionally.

While in Odessa, I also went to the rehab therapy place that's been a big help these last few months. The folks at the clinic have known me since my high school days at Permian, where I was on Mojo's first state championship team, in 1965.

My mom still has scrapbooks filled with pictures from those glory days.

Soon, I'll have a bunch more pictures to add from these glory days.

How cool is that?


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press