Facebook Joe Thomas Sr.

Joe Thomas Sr. is listed at five-foot-ten and 210 pounds. Those are solid dimensions for a college running back.

Thomas' insides tells a different story. He is 55 years old and nearly four decades removed from his high school career at Blackville-Hilda in South Carolina.

But on Saturday, Thomas fulfilled a dream. He played college football. With 4:34 remaining in FCS South Carolina State's 32-0 win over Savannah State, the Bulldogs called Thomas' number on a handoff. He rushed for three yards. Thomas finished the game with four rushes for minus-one yards as the oldest player in Division I football history.


"I felt like a hero," Thomas says. "It was certainly one of the happiest days of my life. I always wanted to play college football and I finally got the chance. And I thank South Carolina State, coach [Buddy] Pough and the entire coaching staff and my teammates for the opportunity. I had been waiting 36 years.

"I always said, 'Never give up on your dreams. Keep driving forward and don't listen to other people.' It's a great day for me, but I must admit, I didn't think my situation would generate so much attention and so much positive response."

Thomas was working as an entrepreneur with a construction company and a training facility when the recession damaged his business. So four years ago, Thomas, who dabbled in boxing and professional wrestling in his younger years, decided to hit the books and enroll South Carolina State, where he is now an engineering major. At the time of his enrollment, his son, Joe Jr., now a linebacker with the Packers, was still a Bulldog.


Joe Sr. asked Pough about joining the team in fall 2012. Joe Jr.'s final season at South Carolina State was 2013. However, a torn ACL and MCL suffered by Joe Sr. in a 2013 car accident caused by a drunk driver kept the father-son duo from being teammates. Joe Sr. filed for bankruptcy the same year of his accident.

"I am a little worried," Joe Jr. told ESPN Friday about his father taking the field. "I know his body might be a little fragile. I'm going to try to get the coach not to run him on one of those stretch plays. I'm going to try to get him to run straight downhill."

From 2014 to the present, Joe Jr. has been a Packer, for the most part -- he spent two weeks on the Cowboys' practice squad in 2015. His father has spent that time off-and-on the Bulldogs' scout team. Last weekend, Joe Sr. got an NCAA waiver to finally suit up.

"My father raised me to be the person and the player I am," Joe Jr. said in a Sports Illustrated Campus Rush feature. "I don't know how good he is or he was as a football player, but I know the kind of man he is. That's good enough."

Now, the world knows what kind of man Joe Thomas Sr. is. He is a man who never gives up, and at age 55, he did something everyone believed he could not do.

There are a lot of things you are never too old for. Add college football to the list.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.

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