They had Senior Day at South Carolina State Saturday, and they honored a real "senior" running back.
Joe Thomas Sr., the 55-year-old father of Green Bay Packers linebacker Joe Thomas, got into S.C. State's game against Savannah State in the first quarter, picking up three yards on a carry in his first career appearance. While records of this type are rather sketchy, he is believed to be the oldest player to ever play in an NCAA FBS football game.
Thomas, a star running back in high school in his native South Carolina, never got the chance to attend college. He enrolled in S.C. State when Joe Jr. began attending, and after his son moved onto the NFL last year, Thomas continued working out with the scout team, despite never seeing the field in a game. He became a bit of a social media sensation after a Sports Illustrated story earlier this week detailed his dream of just getting into one college game before his senior season, and career, ended.
"How am I supposed to prove myself," he asked in the feature, "if I don't get a real chance?"
Usually, it's the parents who get misty-eyed seeing their son perform on Senior Day. This is the first time in college football history it's been the other way around, as Joe Jr. said he's proud of his dad for working hard just for that one opportunity.
"It's been crazy for me," Joe Jr. told ESPN. "I never thought you'd see a 55-year-old running back. I'm just proud of him. He made his mind up to do something and stuck to it."