It takes a lot to get the Flynn family together sometimes. But baby brother playing in an NFL game qualifies.
“It’s a huge occasion,” Kennedale fourth-grade teacher Rebecca Flynn Hannon said. “It’s so much fun. We’ve all been texting all day making plans about how we’re going to get to the game.”
It’s going to be in a 15-seat passenger van, actually, rented by big brother Bill Fisher, and it’s going to wind up at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, where quarterback Matt Flynn will lead the Green Bay Packers against the Dallas Cowboys.
“It’s going to be kind of weird,” Hannon said. “We were raised Cowboy fans. Everybody loves the Cowboys, especially my grandfather and my dad.”
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But the loyalties will be clear in the stadium, where 11 members of the family will be watching Matt’s every move — none more closely or nervously than Hannon, the family’s “big sister” who grew up taking care of everybody and doting on little Matt.
“It’s fine when the defense is on the field. We get excited,” she said. “But every time he takes a snap, I’m just praying and trying to breathe. It’s really stressful, yes. You worry naturally that he’s going to get hurt, especially with those big guys.”
She smiles at what she is saying.
“I didn’t realize how big they are until I was standing next to one at his wedding,” she said. “One of his offensive guards was his best man. He’s huge. He’s like a giant.”
Hannon’s sister, Amanda Flynn, a voice coach in New York City, said watching her sister’s reaction is part of the fun.
“Rebecca gets very nervous,” she said. “I’m watching very intently. Rebecca gets nervous. I get very into the game. I’m really watching. We’re used to it, but it’s still always nerve-wracking. He’s the one they’re all trying to push to the ground.”
Hannon and much of the family will get a chance to see Matt at the team hotel Saturday. After the game Sunday, after he and the Packers have flown home, the rest of the family will gather at her south Arlington home for their Christmas.
“I’m making cookies right now. That was our favorite thing to do together — Christmas cookies with icing,” Hannon said.
Matt was good at making cookies, she said, but he was good at a lot of things — mainly, baseball, football and school.
“He was an all-around, really good kid,” she said. “Always lots of fun. Never a kid that would argue or fight, just a really kind of quiet, likable.”
She smiles again.
“We would complain about him — ‘the golden-haired child. Never gets in trouble.’ ”
The Flynns all grew up in Tyler, where Rebecca, Amanda and brothers Adam, Bill and Matt all went to Robert E. Lee High School. Matt earned a football scholarship to LSU — “He always wanted to play in the SEC,” Hannon said — and was the starting quarterback on the 2007 national champion. He led LSU to a 38-24 win over Ohio State in the BCS title game.
“That was fun,” Hannon said. “That was also nerve-wracking. We were so nervous. Ohio State scored first. Once things started to turn around and we started to win, it was all exciting. I think we stayed up until 3 a.m. talking in the hotel lobby.”
Who knows how long the Christmas/football party Sunday night will last.