Sunday, July 15, 2012

Counting down the top Pitt football players of the last 40 years- No.39 Tom Flynn

I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972.  I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion.  The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree.  I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used.  I will add at least one a day, maybe two.  

My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:

1.  Productivity.
2.  Talent.
3.  Place in program history.
4.  Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers. 
5.  No current players.

39.  Tom Flynn (1980-83)-  The former Penn Hills quarterback legend was turned into a safety at Pitt, and the result was that he was one of the better defensive players, and special teams players, in program history.

A four year starter for the most part (as a freshman he shared the spot with Rick Trocano when he wasn't playing quarterback), and at the time it was an amazing accomplishment considering the Panthers were loaded.  Flynn led the team with 5 interceptions as a sophomore while also having a 7.6 avg. punt returner and a touchdown.  As a junior he returned another punt for a touchdown and had a 9.1 avg.  As a senior, he again was phenomenal on returns with a 9.2 avg.  Needless to say, he has been the most productive punt returner in Pitt history with 983 yards.

If that wasn't enough, Flynn also had 297 career tackles, good for 15th all-time and 3rd among defensive backs.  When he graduated from Pitt he had the 3rd most tackles in school history.

A 5th round draft pick of Green Bay, he had 9 interceptions as a rookie, but then was released in his third season. He ended up with the NY Giants late in the same season and got a Super Bowl ring.


  1. Came across this... There were 28 1st Team All-Americans during the 40 year period..

    Ernie Borghetti??... is that EJ Borghetti (Pitt media guy) dad?

    1. Nas Robinsons headbandJuly 15, 2012 at 5:52 PM

      He is indeed.

  2. There are a lot of Pitt student athletes that have earned super bowl rings so far on the list. Didn't know about Flynn's or Rutherford's, or perhaps I knew and just didn't think about it, so thanks for that information. Add Russ Grimm's and you have a great weekends worth ofr rings.

    One memory of Tom Flynn's was indeed a punt return. If you will recall it occurred when the punt was rolling dead and he came flying in as it rolled and was surrounded by opposing players and poof, he was gone. Okay, he didn't return it for a td or anything but I do think he got some positive yards. He changed how punts were covered in that each special teams unit designated members to cover the ball until it died and never turn away from it. Anyway, that's how I remember.

  3. It was a game against WVU. The WVU player stopped the roll of the ball and walked away, but ref did not blow the whistle and Flynn picked it up and ran quite a ways towards WVU endzone. I prettu sure he got within 20 yards, if not as close to 10 yards. Pitt later scored, I think, but not sure if they won the game.