BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — At 5 years old, albeit bigger and stronger than your average 5-year-old, Trey Flowers went to work.
His father, Robert, owned a construction company in Huntsville, Alabama. He was also raising 10 children. Flowers Construction Co. was a family business, which meant every last one of those kids was going to not just help their father, but, Robert believed, learn how to help themselves by understanding the value of an honest day’s work.
“We grew up knowing that Dad has a construction company,” Trey said. “So summers, when you don’t have school, you are pretty much working for him. At 5, 6, I was on the site. At that age, I was probably just fetching the tools and getting stuff, cleaning up the wood. The older I got the bigger my role got.”
Trey Flowers is now a star defensive end for the New England Patriots, who play Philadelphia on Sunday in the Super Bowl. This is his third year in the league. This could be his second championship. He recorded 62 tackles this season, plus 6.5 sacks and will be a key for New England to stop Philly’s effective run-pass option plays.
Flowers, 6-foot-2, 265 pounds, draws a direct line for his NFL success to those long, hot summers working as a kid for a no-nonsense father.
“You’ve got to wake up every day with a purpose,” Trey said. “You’ve got to wake up and be productive, wake up with something to do. Real early you learn to understand hard work, understand what it takes to be successful.
“It definitely taught me hard work.”
The Flowers would leave the house at 6 a.m. and might not get home until 8 p.m., basically sunrise to sunset. Then do it again the next day, building homes, commercial sites, whatever project they could get. It was serious business.
The job site held an allure, though. For one, he was surrounded by family. He was the seventh of Robert’s 10 children, so following his older siblings was natural.
Still, while other kids slacked off, or specialized in athletics, he worked. Robert needed the help. And as Trey got older and stronger, the help he could provide was considerable. Digging ditches and trenches morphed into more skilled labor. By 12, Trey was roofing, hanging dry wall and spreading concrete.
There was more to it than that, though.
“I worked hard,” Robert told the Providence Journal last year. “I wanted them to work, too. Trey worked as hard as I did. When he was 12 years old, he was worth $25 an hour to me. He could put on as much shingles or do as much construction work as any grown man.