NFL Legend Luther Broughton Passes on Football Knowledge by Coaching His Son
Welcome to Why We Play, a series of discussions with current players and NFL Legends about their youth football experience and why they play the game.
Growing up in Berkeley County, South Carolina, Luther Broughton didn’t get a chance to play youth football.
"I grew up in the sticks," he said with a laugh. "There was (youth) leagues in Charleston, but we were out in the sticks."
Broughton played with friends instead — and he said that prepared him for his first organized football experience as a high school freshman.
"For me, it was amazing because we really learned the game," he said. "I played with my older cousins, and I learned so much. And we had that same teamwork and camaraderie. You actually felt like you were on a team."
After starring as a high schooler, Broughton went on to play tight end at Furman University. He was selected in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1997 NFL Draft, and played four seasons with the Eagles and the Carolina Panthers.
Retired from the league since 2003, Broughton lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina, just outside of Charlotte. When Broughton's son, Cameron, told him that he wanted to play, the elder Broughton couldn’t have been happier. And after not playing organized youth football as a kid, Broughton is making sure his son, Cameron, makes the most of his opportunity.
"People ask me all the time, ‘Do you want your son to follow in your footsteps?’" Broughton said. "I don’t need, or want, my son to follow in my footsteps. But I want him to play team sports and football is the ultimate team sport.
"With football, you can’t do it by yourself. It’s not tennis. In football, every little thing counts. And it doesn’t matter if it’s youth football or all the way up to the NFL. You need all 11 players on the field doing the right thing, or it doesn’t work."
In an ironic twist, Cameron's first flag football team as a six-year old was the Eagles, the same team that drafted his father in 1997.
"It’s full blown Eagles, too — the green color and all," Broughton said.
Broughton is a coach for his son's flag football team. The former NFL tight end works with the kids on the basics of the game and loves how eager they are to learn.
“I got involved with the flag team because we didn’t have enough coaches," Broughton said. "So I volunteered, and it’s been a lot of fun. It really is a lot of fun.
"At that age, six years old, I just stress to them to do things the right way. That’s what I talk to them about all the time. Listen to the coach. That’s a big deal. Simply listening is so important. And when you tell them something and it works, that goes a long way too."
Broughton said Cameron has picked up on some of the lessons from his father.
"They’re at an age where they have a hard time catching the ball, they drop the ball a lot," Broughton said. "Cameron actually can catch, because we work on it so much. He got something from me. So I try to teach them looking the ball in, something as simple as that. And they started catching the ball, after they were just dropping it, and that was a huge deal. They were excited."
Cameron also caught some highlights of his dad during his playing days — another memorable moment for Broughton.
"Obviously he never saw me play live," Broughton said. “Then he saw some old highlights. He’s like, ‘Are you kidding me? That’s you? You really played?’ But he loves playing and he takes it very serious."
Photo: AP/Greg Trott
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- NFL Players and Legends