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Joe Thomas Sr., 55, becomes oldest D-I football player ever to take field

Joe Thomas Sr., whose son plays for the Green Bay Packers, took the field as a running back for South Carolina State Saturday at age 55.
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On Saturday afternoon, Joe Thomas Sr. fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing college football. The 55-year-old, who has practiced with South Carolina State for the better part of four seasons, carried the ball for three yards in the first quarter of the Bulldogs’ game against Savannah State on Senior Day.

The NCAA does not keep age statistics, but Thomas Sr. is believed to be the oldest D-I football player ever to take the field.

“It was the happiest day of my life,” Thomas told reporters after the game.

Watch his carry below.

Thomas was raised in Blackville, South Carolina, a small town about 40 minutes from Orangeburg, where South Carolina State’s campus is located. Throughout his childhood, Thomas was partially deaf, but a doctor helped him clear his ears when he was 17. During his junior and senior seasons at Blackville High School, he was a star defensive lineman and a promising running back. But he did not get the opportunity to play college football.

When Thomas’s son, Joe Thomas Jr.—who now plays for the Green Bay Packers—enrolled at South Carolina State, Thomas Sr. decided to join him in the classroom and on the football field. Although he never had the opportunity to play in a game with his son, Thomas Sr. stuck with the football team with the hopes of getting in a game. On Saturday, he accomplished that goal.

To read the original story on Joe Thomas Sr.’s remarkable life, click here.