Eddie Meador, Rams defensive star who missed out on Corridor of Fame, dies at 86


Easy, matter-of-fact and figuring out precisely what he needed, that’s the way in which Eddie Meador lived his life. So upon graduating from highschool in 1955, Meador drove 485 miles from Russellville, Ark., to Faculty Station, Texas.

Meador walked into Coach Bear Bryant’s workplace at Texas A&M and stated he needed to play soccer for him. Bryant regarded again on the 5-foot-10, 165-pound, tow-headed 18-year-old and stated, “You’ll by no means play Division 1 soccer. You must go someplace else.”

Undeterred, Meador climbed again into his automotive and drove 437 miles to Tulsa, Okla., the place a brand new coach, Bobby Dobbs, was taking on a Golden Hurricanes workforce that was 0-11 in 1954. Tulsa, Meador figured, was determined. The college wouldn’t flip him down. However it did.

Meador returned to Russellville, enrolled at tiny Arkansas Tech and proceeded to begin at tailback and security all 4 years, breaking each college speeding document. The Rams drafted him and signed him for a $500 bonus in 1959 and he cracked the beginning lineup as a rookie.

By the point his 12-year profession as a cornerback and free security with the Rams was over in 1970, Meador was a four-time All-Professional, made six Professional Bowls, was named to the NFL’s all-decade workforce for the Sixties and set Rams data that also stand with 46 interceptions, 22 fumble recoveries and 10 blocked kicks.

“Someplace Bear Bryant is tipping that herringbone hat and saying, ‘You bought me on that one,’” Meador’s son, Dave, stated on a podcast.

Meador, who died this week at age 86, had just one lingering disappointment. Regardless of a pointed but respectful yearslong marketing campaign by Dave, Meador is the one first-team, all-decade security from 1960 to 2010 to not be inducted into the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame.

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Rams normal supervisor Elroy Hirsch, left, dazzles his defensive backs throughout coaching camp at Redlands College on July 20, 1961. Rams gamers (from left) Lindon Crow, Charle Britt, Clendon Thomas, Eddie Meador and Vernon Valdes attempt to sort out him.

(Los Angeles Occasions)

Not making the Corridor of Fame isn’t one thing Meador talked typically about, though he did inform Jerry Crowe of The Occasions in 2009: “I most likely was pretty much as good a ballplayer as a few of the folks that’s already in there. Possibly not, however I believe that.”

Meador was born Aug. 10, 1937 in Dallas, and his household quickly relocated to the tiny west Texas city of Ovalo, pop. 500, the place Meador first performed soccer within the seventh grade. The Meadors moved to a different speck on a map, Atkins, Ark., earlier than his sophomore yr in highschool and opened a laundromat in close by Russellville.

As a way to play soccer, Meador slept in a again room on the laundromat so he may stroll to highschool. He broke his hip and sat out his junior yr however got here again as a senior to star at tailback. He additionally lettered in basketball and observe and discipline.

He stated he was motivated by “self-pride. … I simply don’t imagine in doing something lower than my greatest, and I don’t like doing issues the fallacious manner,” he stated.

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Rams defensive again Eddie Meador, prime proper, tackles Cleveland’s Preston Carpenter throughout a me in September 1962.

(Vic Stein / Related Press)

It was sufficient for him to imagine he may play soccer at Texas A&M for the legendary Bryant, regardless that he was undersized. A number of years in the past Meador spoke to a highschool class and stated his largest impediment was “simply having to show to folks that I may play.”

The one motive Arkansas Tech — its gamers had been referred to as the Marvel Boys — gave him a scholarship was “as a result of one in every of my highschool coaches had moved over to teach at Tech,” he stated. By the point he graduated, he’d turn out to be probably the most wondrous Marvel Boy. He dashed 95 yards for a landing in opposition to the College of the Ozarks, rushed for 239 yards in opposition to Hendrix Faculty three weeks later and amassed 3,410 speeding yards in his profession.

Throughout Meador’s senior yr, a Tech coach occurred upon a scout for the Rams in an Arkansas duck blind and informed him he must hold the undersized, overachieving two-way star in his sights. Meador, who had bulked as much as 193 kilos, attracted the eye of a number of NFL groups when he ran wild behind the blocks of left sort out John Madden within the Optimist Bowl, a postseason recreation in Tucson that pitted Division I All-Individuals in opposition to Little All-Individuals.

The Rams took him with the eightieth general decide and he had no bother contributing instantly to the struggling franchise. Assistant coach Jack Faulkner informed a reporter that the fresh-faced rookie “appears to be like like Mickey Rooney however hits like Jim Brown.”

Meador’s was in awe when he stepped onto the Coliseum discipline for his first exhibition, the L.A. Occasions Charity Recreation.

“I don’t suppose I heard something from the coaches or gamers,” he stated. “There was a lot crowd noise that’s all I may hear.”

Regardless of the group assist, the Rams went 2-10 and didn’t submit a successful document till 1966 in coach George Allen’s first season. The subsequent yr they went 11-1-2, the primary of three consecutive seasons of not less than 10 wins. Meador had eight interceptions, returning two for touchdowns, and was broadly thought of the perfect free security in soccer.

“Resourceful and ingenious,” is how Allen described Meador. “He made performs you didn’t suppose he may make. He had actual management qualities and captained the Rams for me.”

The Rams launched a press release Tuesday: “We’re deeply saddened to study of the passing of an NFL nice, Eddie Meador, who was a standout chief for our group and the Los Angeles group all through his whole 12-year profession. He was an instinctive and fearless competitor who captained a few of the biggest defenses in NFL historical past.

“Eddie’s skill to impress teammates made him a heartbeat of the Rams and his humility made him approachable to everybody. The Meador household and buddies are on the core of our ideas, and his legacy will stay on perpetually.”

Meador’s eldest son, Michael, was born with cerebral palsy, and in 1969 Meador was recipient of the NFL Gamers Assn. Alan Web page Group Award, the Byron “Whizzer” White Man of the 12 months Award and the NFL father of the yr award in 1969 by elevating consciousness and funds for teenagers with particular wants. That yr, Meador additionally served as president of the NFL Gamers Affiliation.

Dave Meador stated his father appreciated how a lot the Rams improved throughout his profession. He particularly loved enjoying behind the line of defense of Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen and Rosey Grier, nicknamed the Fearsome Foursome.

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Eddie Meador picture unfold from the August 5, 1965 version of the Los Angeles Occasions.

(Los Angeles Occasions)

“The exhausting instances the Rams confronted made him a greater participant,” he stated. “He needed to play smarter, he needed to play more durable. Taking part in in opposition to Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, the Johnny Unitas-Raymond Berry mixture, Bart Starr; in case you don’t decide up your recreation, you aren’t on the sector.”

The closest the standard Meador got here to bragging was when he recalled dealing with the rival Dallas Cowboys. He had three interceptions in a single recreation and was named NFL defensive participant of the week.

“Their quarterback appeared to love to throw the ball to me,” he stated, chuckling. “Don Meredith would simply throw it up and hope for the perfect. I appreciated that about him.”

After he retired from the NFL, Meador bought actual property in Dallas till the Nineteen Eighties when he and his second spouse, Annette, launched an equestrian jewellery manufacturing firm referred to as the Beautiful Horse after transferring to Pure Bridge, Va., the place they lived on 10 acres north of Roanoke within the picturesque Shenandoah Valley. The corporate is now run by Meador’s grandson Jason Maze.

Dave Meador launched a web site a number of years in the past, edmeador21.com, whose said goal is to “promote the induction of Eddie Meador into the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame.” It contains testimonials from former teammates, together with from Olsen, who stated Meador was not solely “excellent in protection and a fierce tackler” but in addition possessed “a exceptional nostril for the soccer that allowed him to give you massive performs time and again.”

Meador, who performed in 159 consecutive video games his first 11½ seasons, was one in every of 12 semifinalists for the Corridor of Fame class of 2024 when the seniors committee met Aug. 22, however the group as a substitute selected Randy Gradishar, Steve McMichael and Artwork Powell. Dave Meador acknowledged that the foundations for inducting older gamers stack the percentages in opposition to them.

“It turned clear to me mathematically that a variety of these guys are by no means going to know they made the Corridor of Fame,” Dave Meador stated. “Kenny Stabler by no means knew. Bob Hayes by no means knew.”

Though Meador died with out being inducted at Canton, he did get pleasure from Eddie Meador day on the Coliseum in 2019. In a video recorded by Meador’s daughter, Vicki, the Rams legend stood on the sector he performed on, waving to followers as they chanted his title.


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