Father of Packers LB Thomas expected to play in game at son's alma mater

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's usually the father worried about the son getting hurt on the football field, but in the case of Green Bay Packers linebacker Joe Thomas Jr., it's the other way around.

On Saturday afternoon, when Joe Jr. is on the Packers' team plane headed for Sunday's game at Washington, his 55-year-old father is expected to make history and play in a college football game. If all goes as planned, Joe Sr. will take the field as the oldest walk-on running back for South Carolina State University, where Joe Jr. played from 2010 to 2013.

"I am a little worried," Joe Jr. said Friday at Lambeau 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."

Joe Jr. has been with the Packers since 2015, yet hardly anyone around the team knew his father was enrolled at his alma mater, let alone on the football team, until a story appeared this week in Sports Illustrated's Campus Rush.

Joe Sr. isn't even listed on the South Carolina State roster because he's still awaiting clearance from the NCAA, but Joe Jr. said the coaches there have assured him his father will play on Saturday against Savannah State, the second-to-last game of the season.

"That's the word I got from the coach," Joe Jr. said. "He texted me and said he's going to give him a carry tomorrow."

"It's senior night, and my grandma is going to walk him on the field."

He said his father was an entrepreneur in South Carolina with a construction company and a training facility until the recession wiped out his business. Four years ago, his father decided to pursue a degree -- he's studying engineering -- and revive his athletic career. Joe Jr., whose cousin is former Patriots receiver Troy Brown, was all for it.

"It's been crazy for me," Joe Jr. said. "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."

When asked whether his dad can actually play, Joe Jr. said: "He always kept in good shape. He always works out. He doesn't drink or smoke, so his body's in pretty good shape. If you read the article, it says when I was in high school, I raced him in our front yard and he beat me."