By Brent Schwartz
Reporting from Houston
Robert Flowers Jr. packed his things, and planned his trip to go watch his son, New England Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers, play football. It’s a trip Robert has made several times over the years, driving to stadiums across the country..
This time was different. Robert was flying to Houston to watch his son play in the Super Bowl.
For Robert, the trip was well worth it, as Trey was instrumental in the Patriots thrilling 34-28 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons, notching 2 ½ sacks. When the confetti fell on the field after the game, the moment was as sweet for Robert as it was for his son.
“He found us, there were so many folks on that field,” Robert said. “I was looking for him. He came up to me. We just hugged.”
Trey’s journey to football success began in Huntsville, Alabama. Robert, the father of 10 children, is a self-employed general contractor who dedicated his professional life to his family.
Trey molded his hard-working attitude after Robert, and paid homage to that during a media session leading up to the Super Bowl.
“My dad is one of the wisest men I know,” said Trey. “He taught us how to work. He taught us how to be disciplined. He taught us how to pray. All aspects in life. He helped me grow.”
Robert grew up in the nearby town of Uniontown, Alabama, where he excelled in sports. His team won the first basketball state championship for his high school, which began to churn out championships shortly after.
Although he was most successful in basketball, Robert had his eye on another sport.
“I loved to play football,” said Robert.
Trey took after his father, and told his dad that he had dreams of being a professional football player when he was a young boy.
Robert encouraged all his children to work hard and follow their dreams when it comes to athletics, but his words of wisdom seemed to stick with Trey more than his siblings.
“I told all my kids these stories,” said Robert, “But the difference with Trey is he never questioned what and how. If I tell him a rooster dips snuff, he’d just check under the wing and try to find the can. He doesn’t spend time questioning it. He was a good kid as far as that is concerned.”
Trey worked hard enough to attract attention from some schools such as Georgia Tech, but received no attention from the big schools in his state, such as Alabama and Auburn.
Georgia Tech invited Trey down for a visit but offered scholarships to two other people. The school said that Trey would have to wait.
Shortly after, Arkansas called and said they watched Trey’s YouTube highlight video and were impressed. A few days later Trey accepted a scholarship from Georgia Tech, but still elected to visit Arkansas with his father, just in case.
“Then we got down to Arkansas, and Bobby Petrino shook my hand and told Trey they want him down there,” said Robert. “There was no doubt that Trey wanted to play in the SEC.”
Not only would playing at Arkansas give him a chance to play SEC football, it gave Trey a chance to play against Alabama and Auburn. Trey decided to go to Arkansas, hugging his father who rarely missed a game of his growing up.
After a stellar career at Arkansas, which included a 3 ½-sack performance versus Auburn, Trey achieved his dream of being a pro football player. Trey was drafted by the Patriots in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Upon graduating from Arkansas, Trey praised his father at a banquet.
“One of the crown jewels of my life is his senior year at Arkansas when he told his Arkansas coaches that if he could be half the man I am, he would consider himself successful,” said Robert. “That made me tear up. That was something special.”
Upon winning the Super Bowl, Robert could do nothing but give praise back to the man he helped mold.
“Realistically, he has been working on this journey all his life. This hasn’t surprised me at all. It was always about watching this come true.”