John Willis
Photo by: LSUsports.net, LSU Athletics Publications
Former Tiger Great 'Red' Brodnax dies at 69
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Published: January 10, 2006, 12:00 AM (CT)
Updated: October 29, 2009, 03:20 AM (CT)
by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports), LSU Sports Interactive

John Willis "Red" Brodnax, 69, the Most Valuable Player on the LSU's 1958 national championship team, has died.

A native of Bastrop and a resident of Berwick, Brodnax died Friday, at Teche Regional Medical Center in Morgan City.

The 1950s saw the rise of star fullback J.W. "Red" Brodnax, a 1954 graduate of Bastrop High School. He was also selected as all-state pitcher 1953-1954 and a member of the All-State mile relay team. The great fullback led the Rams during an impressive career that eventually landed him at LSU.

"Red" was MVP on the National Champion Team of 1958 and selected as outstanding SEC Blocker by the Birmingham Quarterback Club. In 1957, he returned a kickoff 99 yards, which still stands second in the LSU record book.

In 1958 , he was awarded the Nelson Award for outstanding achievement in Academics, Athletics, Sportsmanship and Citizenship. "Red" was a three-year letterman and went on to play professional football for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos and in the Canadian Football League.

"Red" was a beloved husband, father and grandfather, and will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved him, and each life that he touched in his own special way. He was the son of the late John Brodnax and the late Hattie Harmon Brodnax. He is survived by his four daughters, Debbie Ann Lolley of Bernice, Vickie Currie and her husband, Joe, of West Monroe, Robin Gale Brodnax and Sheila Killpack of Dallas, and Tammy Bourque and her husband, Paul, of Beloit, Kan.; and four sons, John David Brodnax of West Monroe, John Willis Brodnax III and his wife, Felicia, of Berwick, Billy Joe Brodnax and his wife, Danielle, of Aurora, Colo., and James T. Brodnax and his wife, Lindsey, of Patterson.

He is also survived by a brother, Jimmy Brodnax and his wife, Dolores, of Berwick; 16 grandchildren, Gabe, Morgan, Connor, Mason, Kyla, Tara, Heath, Matthew, Heather, Kyle, Kayla, Bobby, Tiffany, Brittany, Phillip and Jazzlyn; and four great-grandchildren, Kayla, Morgan, Jaycee and Michael. He also leaves behind nieces, nephews and many friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; his loving wife of more than 38 years, Linda Faye Brodnax; and one son, John Maurice Brodnax.

The family will receive friends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, January 10, 2006, at Twin City Funeral Home in Morgan City. Funeral services will be at Twin City Funeral Home at 3 p.m. Tuesday, January 10, 2006, with the Rev. Charley Driskill officiating. Interment will be at Morgan City Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in honor of J.W. "Red" Brodnax II to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Scholar Program, 8075 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge, LA 70809.

Friends are invited to leave condolence messages for the family online at www.twincityfh.com.

Comments from former LSU coach Paul Dietzel:

"I am really sad about this (Brodnax's passing). Red has had some difficult times the last few years. His wife actually died just over a month ago. I feel really bad for his family."

"I recruited Red out of Bastrop High School and he was as fine a running back out of high school as I had ever seen. When he came to LSU, he was a running back. But I already had Billy Cannon, who would win the Heisman Trophy, and Johnny Robinson, who was also a talented running back. So I talked Red into playing fullback, which wasn't that glamorous of a position even back then. He turned into a great blocker and was voted by his teammates on the 1958 National Championship team as the MVP of the team that year. What a tribute to a player who played along side a Heisman Trophy winner."

"Red had to be the toughest football player I ever coached. He knocked down more people with his nose than most people did with their whole body. He was a completely unselfish and never complained. He was a fine young man and a real joy to coach."

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