SUL ROSS STATE linebacker Mike Flynt is on a mission to reclaim his position in the Lobos' starting lineup. It won't be easy. At 5'9", 195 pounds and with a 5-flat 40 time, Flynt isn't an exceptional athlete. And that starting job he's trying to get back? He lost it in 1971.
Before his senior season Flynt got into one too many fights and was thrown out of Sul Ross, a Division III school in Alpine, Texas. He went on to become a strength and conditioning coach, and he's spent the past several years marketing Powerbase, a home training system he invented. After reminiscing with former teammates at a recent reunion, Flynt, now 59, began to regret that his career ended prematurely. So after learning he still had one year of eligibility left—D-III schools have no limit on a player's age or how long it takes him to complete his eligibility—he enrolled in graduate classes at Sul Ross. At a tryout he impressed coach Steve Wright, who is eight years younger than his newest inside linebacker. "He has made the squad legitimately as an active participant," says Wright, who last year led the Lobos to their first winning season in a decade. "He's older than I am, but I really haven't even noticed it. We've got some players wondering what the hoopla is about. He hasn't been a distraction to the team."
Flynt is nursing a muscle pull in his leg—he is card-carrying member of the AARP and a grandfather, after all—and will miss the Lobos' opener on Saturday, but Wright says he could see playing time, at least on special teams, later in the season. "I think it was Carl Yastrzemski who used to say, 'How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?'" Flynt told the AP, invoking the name of a baseball player who retired in 1983, before any of his Lobos teammates were born. "I'd be in my late 20s or early 30s, because that's how I feel."
His wife, Eileen, wasn't quite so enthusiastic, but after some convincing, she agreed to move from their suburban Nashville home to West Texas. "I feel like I'm married to Peter Pan," she said.
SUL ROSS STATE UNIVERSITY/AP (FLYNT PORTRAIT)
JASON HENNINGTON/SUL ROSS STATE UNIVERSITY (FLYNT ACTION)
SENIOR MOMENT Flynt's junior season was 37 years ago.