War changes Flowers' perspective on sports

November 26, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - No one wants to beat Tennessee more than Kentucky senior cornerback Earven Flowers.

However, if the Cats don't win their season-ending game, Flowers will know how to keep the loss in perspective.

His perspective on winning and losing changed when his stepfather, a master sergeant in the Army, was sent to Iraq in January. He's not scheduled to return home for at least two more months.

"He knew there was a chance he would have to go, then we got the call telling him to go in January," said Flowers. "It was sort of hard on my family, and me, too. I am the type of person that won't show a lot of emotion and a lot of people don't know what is going on with me, but that hurt me pretty bad."

His stepfather e-mails him regularly and tries to call when he can. Often the calls come when Flowers is in class.


"He just leaves a message and then I e-mail him when I get back. But I sure miss him," Flowers said.

Flowers says having a loved one in the war has changed his perspective on college athletics.

"Guys get bent out of shape over losing and I hate losing," Flowers said. "But we have a lot of guys over there fighting so we can play this game. When you take that perspective, losing isn't all that bad. I can take a loss on the field, but I am not sure I could be over there fighting and face the possibility of dying.

"Those are the real heroes. A lot of kids look up to us because we are on TV and play football for Kentucky, but those are the heroes over there fighting so we can go to school and play football. It makes me very appreciative of what I have here."

Proud of his accomplishments

Flowers is proud of what he's accomplished since coming to Kentucky from Texas after being recruited by former coach Hal Mumme's staff.

"My senior year they sent me a letter saying they were not going to recruit me any more. Nobody knew that. I kept that to myself," Flowers said. "I kept working and they finally got back on me. I always wanted to come here because I saw Tim Couch on TV and thought it would be a great place to play.

"I came here and proved everybody wrong that said I wasn't fast enough to play cornerback and not big enough to play safety. Those doubts motivated me. With one game left, I still have not given up any big plays and nobody has ran by me. I think I proved I could do my job."

He also proved he could learn from his mistakes in the classroom. He came to Kentucky wanting to be a sportswriter. Now he plans on being a high school football coach either in Texas or Kentucky.

"The classes were too tough for me when I got here (to be a sportswriter). I could have done them, but me being lazy and wanting things just to come easy, I got behind and had to switch to coaching, which is my second love," Flowers said. "Basically, I just had to grow up. I thought classes would be similar to high school and I would just waltz through things. I had eligibility problems going into last year. I didn't work hard enough on or off the field. That was my fault."

Flowers is disappointed that Kentucky has had just one winning season during his career and has not been to a bowl game. He says playing for three coaches has been difficult, but that also was no excuse for UK not being better.

"Players still have to go out there and make plays and we didn't do that," Flowers said. "That's why we are in the predicament we are now. We have enough talent. We've had some bad luck with injuries, but mainly it's just guys not playing well."

Patience needed

Flowers hopes fans will remain patient and believe in the program.

"The program will get better. The coaches are bringing in young talent," Flowers said. "If fans want to give up, there's nothing I can do about that. But if you are true blue, you are going to stick by your team. That's how it is.

"I learned loyalty in high school. Growing up in Temple, Texas, that was the only high school in town. I had pride in my team. My school did not make the playoffs this year and didn't play well, but I am still a Temple Wildcat. That's the way it is. If you are not loyal, you are not a true fan in my opinion."

Flowers says Kentucky could beat Tennessee, something the Wildcats have not done since 1984.

"We had a chance last year. We held Tennessee pretty good and then they made a couple of big plays," Flowers said. "If we limit their big plays and make a couple of our own, we can win."

Flowers says not having offensive coordinator Ron Hudson, who resigned earlier this week, should not matter Saturday.

"We just have to compete and play. It doesn't matter who calls the plays," Flowers said. "If you go out and perform and do all you can not to let the guy beside you down, then the play works and you will be successful. Players, not coaches, win and lose games."

Central Kentucky News Articles