Rashad Johnson returns as homecoming parade grand marshal

Rashad Johnson 1

It’s homecoming week at the University of Alabama, which means campus is buzzing with excitement.

One of the most memorable parts of homecoming each year is the parade. This year, the parade’s grand marshal is former Crimson Tide and NFL player Rashad Johnson.

Johnson played for the Crimson Tide from 2005-2008, then had a successful decade-long career in the NFL. After retiring from football, he found his way back to the University of Alabama’s football scene as a sideline analyst.

“Being back at the university and working on the sidelines is a dream job,” Johnson said.

Johnson scheduled to serve as grand marshal for the homecoming parade in 2019, but that event was canceled because of rain. And in 2020, the event wound up canceled because of COVID-19. So after a two-year delay, he’s elated to receive the honor.

“I’m extremely excited about leading the parade, leading it with my girls,” Johnson said. “Life has changed a lot since I was playing at the university. It’s always been a family, a brotherhood, and now I get the opportunity to bring my family back and to experience some of those great memories. Just ready to write that chapter and put it in the book.”

Johnson and his wife, Chelsea, have two little girls, 4-year-old Hunter 1-year-old Taylor. They’re grand marshaling the parade as a family, but they’ll have a special co-grand marshal too. This person, who has not been publicly announced, is a university graduate who has worked on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’s admirable of the Alumni Association and the university,” Johnson said. “I’m just honored to share that space. What I did was play a little game of football, something that I love. They’re risking their lives and saving lives each day. I’m so thankful for them.”

Johnson said he hasn’t met his co-grand marshal yet, but he has a message for whoever it may be.

”Your heart’s huge and it rubs off on everyone,” he said. “Continue to set the example, set the bar high. God so loved the world that he gave. He sacrificed, and what you’re doing is sacrificing, you’re giving up yourself to come in and help others. Thank you for setting an example. Hopefully I can do the same in my life.”

Few people in the sports realm knew the name Rashad Johnson when he started as a walk-on from Sulligent in 2004. Now he’s a household name. But when you hear his name, he’s not interested in that legacy. He’s worried about something much more important.

“I hope people say he is a good father, a great husband and an inspiration to keep going,” Johnson said.

The homecoming parade begins Saturday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m.

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