1959-1965 - The L.A. Rebuild

Eddie Meador: Once an underdog athlete, turned into a legendary L.A. Rams defensive back

We can all recall “that one player.” That one player who seemed to have a nose for the ball, that one player who created a critical turnover, and that one player who starred in all of those highlight reels. If you watched the Los Angeles Rams between 1959-1970, chances are you witnessed an amazing playmaker in the secondary named Eddie Meador. Here’s a look back at one of the best Rams players of all time:

An overlooked prospect: Meador only played one year of high school football, and he also wasn’t the largest player on the field. He stood roughly at 5’11” and weighed about 193 pounds, which didn’t scream top prospect to legendary University of Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Both Bryant and the University of Tulsa decided to pass on Meador, which left him with Arkansas Tech.

The school offered him a scholarship and their investment definitely paid off. During the four years he played at Arkansas Tech (1955-1958), he earned 3,358 yards (second-most in school history) and scored 272 points as a running back. The Associated Press named Meador an All-American during his senior season, and he was also named Outstanding Back in the College All-Star Football Game in 1959.

It’s hard to believe, but Meador wasn’t planning on entering the NFL.

“I went through ROTC in college and had a commission in the army,” Meador told National Football Post.com. He continued, “I had planned on making the military my career. Then I got drafted by the Rams and thought, ‘Shoot, I might as well try it.’”

Not a bad decision on his part, and the Rams’ seventh round (80th overall) investment eventually paid off.

Los Angeles Rams (1959-1970): Fortunately for Meador, the Rams were in desperate need of quality defensive backs. He made the Rams roster and quickly earned a starting spot a cornerback during his rookie season in 1959. While he still had much to learn, he still managed to snag three interceptions.

The Rams progressed little under new head coach Bob Waterfield in 1960. They finished 4-7-1, but they did improve in one area, which was points allowed. Meador’s pass defense proved to be a big part of that improvement. He recorded four interceptions and performed well enough to be added to the Pro Bowl roster during his sophomore season.

It would take another four seasons (1964) for Meador to see another Pro Bowl appearance. By then, Harland Svare was the new head coach, and the team wasn’t doing any better, finishing with a 5-7-2 record. Meador did compile three interceptions and two fumble recoveries to capture one of the few bright spots of that season.

Meador wouldn’t taste any team success until the 1966 season when George Allen took over as head coach. Meador, much like many of his teammates, had nothing but positive things to say about Allen. Those positive things are for good reason, since Allen led the Rams to their first winning season since 1958. The Rams’ defense were second in the league in least points allowed with 212 points. Meador once again made it to the Pro Bowl with five interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Credit for the defensive success also had to go to the Fearsome Foursome.

The following season was quite possibly one of the best Rams teams ever assembled, and was arguably Eddie Meador’s best season. The Rams finished with 11-1-2 record and faced the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs only to lose 28-7. Meador was considered a thief among NFL offenses after nabbing eight interceptions and recovering two fumbles.

Meador was selected to two All-Pro teams which was in 1968 and 1969 and decided to retire after the 1970 season. The Rams made the playoffs but never did bring home a Lombardi Trophy during Eddie Meador’s tenure. Meador finished with 46 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries.

Meador’s Accolades:  

  • Six-time Pro Bowler
  • Inducted in the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction in 1969.
  • Inducted in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1978.
  • Inducted in the Helms Athletic Foundation Sports Hall of Fame in 1972.
  • NAIA Collegiate Hall of Fame Member

Source: Arkansastechsports.com, Nationalfootballpost.com,  Pro-sports-reference.com

You can follow Johnny Gomez on Twitter @Johnny5not6. Be sure to follow Rams Talk on Twitter @TalkRams.

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