The story of Eddie Meador is a remarkable study in perseverance and overcoming the odds that always seemed stacked against him. Eddie didn’t play football until he was a senior at Russellville High School in Arkansas. He had broken his hip during training camp his junior year. After his senior year, Eddie’s dream was to play at Texas A&M. He visited the campus and talked to the football coaches where, at the time, the great Paul “Bear” Bryant was the head coach. Eddie was told he was too small to play in the Southwest Conference which turned out to be a huge mistake made by the Bear. Upon returning home, he next tried Tulsa and was yet again told he was too small. He was running out of options.
As luck would have it, Eddie’s high school coach at Russellville became an assistant at Arkansas Tech and he convinced the head coach to give Eddie a scholarship. Only one small school would take a chance on Eddie but one chance is all Eddie needed. He was a highly decorated college player at the NAIA level and received a shot to play in a postseason bowl known as the Optimist Bowl. The Optimist Bowl was played in Arizona and featured the big school players that coach Bryant said Eddie wasn’t good enough to play with. As usual, Eddie got his chance and excelled during the game, catching the eye of a Los Angeles Rams scout.
Later that year, Eddie was drafted in the NFL in the seventh round by the Rams. The only problem was Eddie had a three-year commitment to the military after graduation. Since this was 1959 between the Korean and Vietnam wars, they agreed to shorten the commitment to six months. Not surprisingly, Eddie would go on to exceed everybody’s expectations. Meador was named the 1959 Defensive Rookie of the Year but, unfortunately, the Rams were not very good his first six years.
That luck changed in 1966 with the arrival of new head coach George Allen who immediately turned the team around. Eddie told me in an interview that Coach Allen was a “120 percent football man who demanded you learn as much as you could”. He told me that Coach Allen was a “Superman as a head coach”. The Rams, under George Allen for the last four years of Eddie’s career, were one of the top teams in the NFL. Eddie still holds multiple Rams team records to this day: most interceptions (46), fumble recoveries in a career (18), blocked kicks in a career (10), blocked kicks in a season (4) and most fumble recoveries in a season (5). In addition, Meador was selected to the NFL’s 1960’s All-Decade Team, was 7-time all-Western Conference and a 3-time All-Pro. There you have, in my opinion, a Hall of Fame resume.
I interviewed Eddie Meador for my radio show last February. While he was a great player, he might be an even better person. He currently resides in Virginia with his wife and they spend their weekends selling equestrian jewelry and seems very happy with his wife by his side. Eddie Meador’s accomplishments on the football field and in life should recognize and celebrated. I guarantee you anybody that has ever met him is a better person for it.
This is a simple answer for me, Eddie is a member of the 1960’s All-Decade team, that means for an entire decade that Eddie was considered one of the three best safeties in the NFL. The other two with Meador are Larry Wilson and Willie Wood both in the Hall of fame already. Two wrongs were righted this past year when Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer got into the Hall of Fame and hopefully, in the coming year Eddie Meador will get his just place as an immortal of the football world, it’s well past time that he does.
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