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The 59-Year-Old College Football Player Who Stunned The Sports World

After being kicked off his college football team in the ’60s, he returned to the gridiron to finish some unfinished business.

An illustration of 59-year-old college football player Mike Flynt flexing his muscles
Credit-Mike Flynt

“I can’t even recount the times that I cried over the loss…it became the greatest regret in my life.”

It was his tenth incident in three years of college. And it put an end to something he’d regret for 37 years of his life.

Born on July 26th, 1949, as the only son of a World War II veteran, Mike Flynt’s immense passion for sports came from his father, J.V. Flynt. During his time with the Permian Panthers (which you may recognize from Friday Night Lights), Flynt was part of the high school’s first state championship team and named a member of the All-District team.

As a result of his accomplishments in a state known for its high school football, Flynt received interest from several college programs. But, blinded by love for his high school girlfriend, Flynt ultimately attended Ranger Junior College for one semester before moving on to Division III Sul Ross State in 1969.

As a member of the Lobos, Flynt was named team captain as a junior and honored as an All-Conference Linebacker.

“Mike was instrumental in keeping that team together,” said teammate Randy Wilson. “He was a team leader.”

Unfortunately despite his success on the field, it was his actions off the field that led to his dismissal from the team and school. After ten fights, including one with a freshman teammate, Flynt was expelled ahead of his senior season.

“I never stopped thinking about the loss of that senior year,” Flynt remembers.

While he still completed his degree away from campus, his dream of finishing his college football career came to an unfortunate end.

Or so he thought.

Mike worked various jobs, including time as the strength and conditioning coach at the Universities of Nebraska, Oregon, and Texas A&M. But the one thing that still ate away at him was his unfulfilled dream – his senior season of college football.

During his college reunion in 2007, Flynt and his former teammates reminisced about the old days. Flynt admitted that getting kicked off the team was the biggest regret of his life. He believed he still had what it took to compete.

“I think it was Satchel Paige who used to say, ‘How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?’ I’d be in my late 20s or early 30s, because that’s how I feel,” Flynt said.

So, at the urging of his teammates’ response of “Well, why don’t you?”, he set a plan in motion.

A quote from 59-year-old college football player Mike Flynt: "If I helped anyone out by what I did, then it was all worth it."

At the age of 59, with the support of his wife and children, Mike Flynt sold his house in Franklin, Tennessee, and made the 1,152-mile trek to West Texas. He returned to Sul Ross State with one year of eligibility left and took a shot at finishing the story he’d left 37 years earlier.

While he was still in relatively good shape from his years as a strength coach, Flynt knew he wasn’t quite in elite football shape.

Sure, he could do twenty-five pull-ups and bench more than some of his younger teammates. But that wasn’t the same as the smash-mouth contact that takes place on the gridiron.

Despite the naysayers and doubt from many, and with help from Jerry Larned – one of his former coaches – Mike Flynt joined the 2007 Lobos team as a walk-on linebacker.

Having been away from the field for so long, Flynt faced various physical, mental, and emotional challenges. He scrapped through grueling practices, demanding workouts, and skepticism from not only the public but numerous teammates.

Yet despite it all, Flynt’s determination, leadership, and passion for the game found him a place in the locker room.

Unfortunately for Flynt, his triumphant return was put on hold as a groin injury and two bulging discs in his neck and back sidelined him for the beginning of the season.

Then, on October 13th, 2007, wearing his familiar number 49 jersey, Flynt entered the game to an eruption of cheers. In a 45-42 triple overtime victory against Texas Lutheran, Flynt – supported by his wife Eileen, their three kids, and his grandson – lined up for nine snaps, including the game-winning field goal.

At 59 years old, he’d defied all odds and expectations of a man his age.

“I received that forgiveness that I needed to overcome the greatest regret in my life,” Flynt said. “I knew that I couldn’t go back and undo what had been done. But I felt that if I could do something positive for someone else, and substitute that for what I’d done wrong, it would help me heal and move on.”

Mike Flynt’s journey of personal redemption brought national attention, garnering various television interviews and guest speaking events. After hanging up his cleats for the final time, Flynt has used his story to become a motivational speaker. He tells his tale of perseverance, resiliency, and the willingness to pursue one’s dreams no matter how far-fetched they may be.

“If I helped anyone out by what I did, then it was all worth it.”

Flynt’s road to personal redemption opened the gates for other aging athletes to follow their dreams.

Tom Thompson II, at the age of 61, became the second oldest football player in NCAA history as a placekicker for the Austin College Fighting ‘Roos. That same year, Alan Moore, who was just months older than Thompson claimed the record as he suited up for Faulkner University as their placekicker.

Mike wrote a book called The Senior: My Amazing Year as a 59-Year-Old College Football Linebacker, which features a forward from LeBron James. Now, a feature-length film entitled The Senior is in production and will star Michael Chiklis as Mike Flynt.

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Written By

Life-long sports fan and avid basketball junkie in every sense of the word. The same passion I have for the Lakers translates to my extreme dislike for the Duke Blue Devils. As much as I cheer for the favorite and the dynasty, I appreciate and applaud the underdog and the grind whether you are a weekend warrior or a professional, both on and off the field.

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