LAKE CITY, S.C. – Ed Brogdon can laugh about it now, that 1987 game he was an East Carolina freshman defensive back trying to cover Miami’s Michael Irvin.
Yes, THAT Michael Irvin, the future Super Bowl champion and Pro Football Hall of Famer.
“Even while we were playing, Michael Irvin was talking. He was talking from the time the play started at the line of scrimmage until either you tackled him or he scored,” Brogdon recalled while laughing. “I tackled him one time, and he said, ‘It’s OK, young buck. It’s going to get better. You’re going to get beat! But it’s going to get better.”
As a freshman out of East Clarendon High School, Brogdon was indeed holding his own. Although the Hurricanes won that Oct. 31, 1987 game by the score of 41-3, Brogdon maintained his status as one of the Pirates’ up-and-coming stars. That was, until he suffered a torn, right MCL in 1988 against another future Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders, and the Florida State Seminoles.
Brogdon also missed the 1989 season because of that injury, but he played another season in 1990. Although a potential chance to play in the NFL was in his sights, that 1988 injury dashed those hopes.
“Something like that kind of opens your eyes. It makes you not to look at any lofty long-term goals you might have. Instead, it makes you be REAL sure you get that degree so you have something to fall back on,” Brogdon said. “So, I put more time into my studies and made sure that DEGREE happened.”
And, it did – he earned a degree in education.
But what next?
“I had a brother in the Marine Corps, and I had an uncle in the Marine Corps, too,” said Brogdon, who was in East Carolina’s ROTC. “But it was also something I had always wanted to try. I wanted to see if I could do this, and it was a challenge, too.”
Therefore, Brogdon trained at Marine Corps Base Quantico and became a Marine Corps officer. Brogdon stayed in the Marines for three years.
That was, until his knee problems returned, and he was honorably discharged.
“I just thought the medical center would give me something so I could get right back, because I expected to make a career out of that,” Brogdon said. “But two weeks later, I’m discharged because of my knee. That was the furthest thing from my mind.”
So, Brogdon again had to ask himself: What next?
“I didn’t want to go into education at the time, I didn’t see that as my calling,” Brogdon said. “But I did come to Florence and worked at a mortgage place and took a class at Francis Marion.
“Then, one of my old coaches, Mike Newsome, found me. He had coached with Mickey Moss at East Clarendon when I was there,” he added. “And they asked me to do some substitute teaching work a couple days a week, and that’s how they pulled me back into the fray.”
And before long, Brogdon enjoyed it, helping coach the Wolverine quarterbacks. And the next year, he was hired at East Clarendon as a seventh-grade math teacher.
Brogdon then coached Kingstree for a year before returning to the Wolverines to coach with Dwayne Howell.
After Howell retired, Brogdon became East Clarendon’s coach for three years. Then, he joined the Lake City staff, where he has been ever since.
He’s currently the Panthers’ offensive coordinator under coach Ronnie Baker.
And even now, Brogdon carries the lessons he learned from serving in the Marines.
“They taught me perseverance and to never give up,” Brogdon said. “There are always going to be bad days. That’s the one quality that I’ve found in every day that I wake up, that the quality is still there.
“If you’re alive, you can continue to go.”
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