Beyond the Game: At Henderson State, like father, like son

Robert Thomas (KATV photo)

For longtime Henderson State fans, it's hard not to have flashbacks when they see No. 44 in red and white.

Robert Thomas is a sophomore defensive end. His dad, who goes by the same name, is a former fullback for the Dallas Cowboys.

"I'm so proud of him. So proud. So happy. It's like deja vu, really," the elder Thomas said. He too played college football at Henderson State.

Dallas signed him as an undrafted free agent linebacker in 1998. The pinnacle moment of his career came when he paved the way for Emmitt Smith to break Walter Payton's record and become the NFL's all-time leading rusher. Smith jumped into his arms to celebrate.

"I wasn't expecting it," Thomas said. "I was coming to celebrate with him. He was overjoyed and his joy just overjoyed me."

Since his days in Dallas, he's turned his attention to his son. Could the younger Robert Thomas follow in his father's footsteps? Could there be another unlikely story in the making?

"If I'm not proof," Thomas said of his son, "I don't know what is."

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