Richmond Flowers, Jr. grew up in a household of high expectations. His father, Richmond Flowers Sr. was an Alabama state senator and later the Attorney General. While in high school, Flowers set the national high school record for the High Hurdles in 13.5, tied the national low hurdle record of 18.2 and set the World Record for a high school athlete running the college hurdles in 13.8.
In the 1964 Alabama State Track Championships, he finished first in five events with five state records. He ended his high school career with eight gold medals, two silver medals, five state records, two national records and one world record. Even today, 40 years later, his performance has not been approached.
In 1965, with over 100 scholarship offers, Flowers left Alabama for the University of Tennessee to become one of the most successful two sport athletes to compete in the SEC. In football, he was the leading pass receiver in Tennessee history (105 catches for 1,215 yards in 3 years), a record that stood for many years. He was a football All-American playing for Tennessee on an SEC Championship Team. As a Volunteer, Flowers played in a Gator Bowl, Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl.
In track, he was a four-time track and field All-American, an NCAA High Hurdle Champion and NCAA record holder in two events. In 1968, he had become the number on hurdler in the world and favored to win the gold at the Mexico Olympics. That year, he was just 1/10 second off the World 60 yard high hurdle record becoming Tennessee’s first NCAA Track Champion.
Flowers defeated the World record holder, Earl McCullough and finished first seven times in eight major meets. He also defeated Willie Davenport, the eventual 1968 Olympic Gold medalist, on Davenport’s own home track, and then repeated the defeat the following day on Flowers’ home track. Named the number one high hurdler in the world, his dream of winning the Olympic title ended on June 2, 1968 with a season ending hamstring injury. The Dallas Cowboys drafted him in the second round of the NFL draft.
In 1970, he was a member of the Cowboy’s Super Bowl V Team. After he was traded to the New York Giants, he became the first active NFL player to join the WFL in 1974. His seven-year professional career ended in 1975 due to injury. In 1998, he was named one of the 12 Living Legends for SEC Football representing the University of Tennessee. In March of 2002, Flowers was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.