RALEIGH — Rod Broadway smiled as he reflected on his career, from All-ACC lineman at North Carolina to assistant and coordinator before winning five Black College Football National Championships.
Everyone sees those accomplishments, but they don’t know the early morning workouts, the years grinding as he worked up the ladder and grueling summer workouts that finally brought him to this moment, recently joining an exclusive club.
After nearly 40 years in coaching, Broadway is finally the proud owner of a boat.
“Twenty-one foot Scout, 150 Yamaha four-stroke,” he said, smiling. “I’m ready to roll, brother.”
The boat is certainly a big deal for the retired N.C. A&T football coach, but so too is his induction in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, set for Friday night in Raleigh, honoring a legendary career that included stops at Carolina, Duke, East Carolina and Florida before going 127-45 as a head coach at A&T, Grambling and N.C. Central.
His final chapter with the Aggies is perhaps the most impressive, resurrecting a moribund program that faced NCAA sanctions, winning three MEAC titles, two Celebration Bowls, including a storybook 12-0 season in 2017 before riding off into the sunset down to Myrtle Beach, S.C. in retirement.
“I don’t know why it happened to me, why I deserve all these blessings but God has definitely been good to me,” he said. “I’m just blessed and I tell anybody, ‘If you ever see me complain, smack me upside the head because I’m one of the lucky ones.’”
Broadway, known for his brevity and cutting wit during his run at A&T, clearly didn’t lose a step during his year out of the public eye.
During a quick speech, he poked fun at the age of fellow hall of famer Bob Harris, the former Duke broadcaster who made his name calling high school football. Turns out, Harris was on the call for Broadway’s high school games down in Oakboro.
“That’ll tell you how old Bob is,” Broadway joked. “He’s aged good, though.”
Broadway, who turned 64 in April, had the energy to stick around and keep the A&T program rolling. Instead, he wanted to experience life after football before it was too late, and it certainly didn’t hurt that he could hand off the program to his good friend, Sam Washington, who helped deliver another MEAC title and Celebration Bowl victory last season.
“Life is good,” Broadway said. “I’m glad I was able to retire at a young age where I could go fishing and play golf and do all the things I enjoy, and spending time with my family.”
Golf and fishing dominate his schedule these days, but rest assured, he’s watching football every Saturday. Last season, he kept his distance from A&T, watching several games on television and traveling to one game at Savannah State.
Watching is a new dynamic, but it didn’t exactly come with a new feeling.
“I get more nervous watching Carolina basketball. I watch Carolina basketball team play, I have to turn the channel sometime,” he said. “When I’m coaching or watching my team play, I never felt like that. Just sitting back and watching those guys play this year, there was a little bit of nerves, but not nearly as much as you’d think.”
Not one for much reflection during his coaching days, Broadway allowed himself to look back a little on the eve of his hall of fame induction.
Originally, he said, he got into coaching to provide for his family, then the second phase was climbing the ladder. The third, which was most rewarding, was making a difference for kids.
“When you have an opportunity to go to an HBCU, you can make a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” he said. “I’m grateful to have had that opportunity because I feel like I was able to help and to direct some black guys into doing some positive things in life.”
Broadway is proud of the relationships he and his staff built at A&T, both with players and within the university, earning the trust of Chancellor Harold Martin and Athletic Director Earl Hilton, who allowed him to dig the program out of a deep hole, and doing it the right way. He’s certainly proud of the opportunities his players have gotten, sending Tarik Cohen, Brandon Parker and Darryl Johnson to the NFL over the past three seasons, pointing out that no other programs wanted them.
Now a five-time national champion and hall of famer with a boat, there’s only one possibility on an otherwise wide-open calendar.
“I’m probably going to have to find me another job to pay for this thing,” he said, laughing. “I didn’t realize a boat would coast so much. If I had known that, I’d have probably coached two or three more years.”