Retired Broadway gets another honor

The former football coach was one of 12 inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in early May

Rod Broadway, who won a combined 127 games as football coach at NC Central, Grambling and NC A&T, was one of 12 people in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019. (Brett Friedlander / North State Journal)

RALEIGH — Rod Broadway has one regret about walking away from his job as NC A&T’s football coach after leading the Aggies to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities national championship in 2017.

But it doesn’t have anything to do with football.

“If I’d have known boats were so expensive,” he said, “I’d have worked a couple more years.”

Broadway got his boat — “a 21-foot Scout, 150 Yamaha four-stroke,” he said. Because of the cost, he found himself applying for another “job” in his retirement at Myrtle Beach.

“I went fishing (one day) and there were two old guys sitting out on the dock,” the former coach said. “I started talking to them and I asked one guy, ‘What do you do?’ He said, ‘Nothing.’ I asked his buddy, ‘What do you do?” and he said, ‘I help him.’ I just wanted to know if they had any more positions available. So that’s what I’m doing.”

Broadway took time out from his fishing duties recently to celebrate his induction into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

He was a member of a 12-person class that also included football player and artist Ernie Barnes, administrator Willie Bradshaw, outdoorsman Eddie Bridges, former ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan, NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., wrestling coach Steve Gabriel, basketball ref Dee Kantner, golf champion Davis Love III, former Lenoir-Rhyne athletic director Neill McGeachy, UNC quarterback Paul Miller and football coach Thell Overman.

A former North Carolina defensive lineman from the Stanly County community of Oakboro, Broadway earned his place in the shrine because of a coaching career that started as an assistant at his alma mater, followed by stops at Duke, East Carolina and Florida.

He went on to compile a 127-45 record as a head coach, leading three difference schools — NC Central, Grambling and then A&T — to HBCU national titles. His final team went a perfect 12-0 with a win in Celebration Bowl.

At the age of 64, in good health with the leverage of an undefeated season and a roster full of starters set to return in 2018, Broadway could have negotiated a hefty raise on his expiring contract. Instead, he chose to be one of those rare individuals who decides to walk away at the top of his game.

And he never looked back, even as his hand-picked successor Sam Washington was leading many of the players he recruited to yet another HBCU championship

“I missed it a little bit, but not much,” Broadway said at a press conference preceding his induction ceremony. “I missed some of the relationships with the players and the coaches. But for the most part, no.”

While Broadway has made a clean break from coaching, he hasn’t turned his back on the game he loves. He called himself a “football junkie” who watched as many games as possible on television last fall, attending only one in person — the Aggies’ win at Savannah State.

Even when there’s not a game on, he still has plenty of things to keep him busy above and beyond the boat and his fishing responsibilities.

“I enjoy doing things that I enjoy,” he said. “Hanging with my family, being able to go to birthday parties and having family celebrations, and a lot of things I missed for 39 years that I’m able to do now. I’m still young enough to travel. Life is good.”

According to fellow Hall of Famer Miller, who was a graduate assistant at UNC early in Broadway’s playing career with the Tar Heels, Broadway has always possessed an ability to appreciate his success.

“He was always smiling and laughing,” Miller said. “You think of defensive linemen as mean guys, but Rod was a big teddy bear. He still is.”

Always one to deflect the credit for his success to his players and members of his staff, Broadway said he was humbled to be joining all-time greats such as Michael Jordan, David Thompson, Choo Choo Justice, Catfish Hunter and others — including fellow 2019 classmates Earnhardt Jr. and Love III — in his home state’s Hall of Fame.

He referred to himself as “one of God’s blessed kids,” in his Hall of Fame speech.

“I’ve had a lot of gifts. I’ve said it a thousand times,” he said. “There’s a country song that reminds me of that. It says: ‘I don’t know why it happened to me, why I deserve all these blessings. But God has definitely been good to me.’”