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Eddie Meador — Rams Legend Shares NFL Stories

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Many people believe Ed Meador belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He stands as one of the greatest defensive backs in Los Angeles Rams history. He also briefly served as president of the NFLPA.

Ed Meador played defensive back for the Los Angeles Rams from 1959-1970. The Pro Football Hall of Fame named Meador to their 1960s All-Decade Team. Nearly 50 years after his last game, Eddie Meador still holds Rams team records for interceptions, blocked kicks, fumble recoveries, and is tied for the franchise lead in interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Eddie Meador shared pro football history on an episode of The Game Before the Money Podcast. He shared stories of growing up in Arkansas (including a strange living situation so he could attend high school football practice), his difficulty of getting into college football, and his glory days with the Rams playing for George Allen and with the legendary Fearsome Foursome – the Los Angeles Rams defensive line of Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier, Lamar Lundy, and later Roger Brown.

He also told of brutal collisions – one involving Paul Hornung and another with Deacon Jones and Ken Willard of the San Francisco 49ers. He shared how John Mackey became president of the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association).

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A playable transcription of the Eddie Meador episode of The Game Before the Money’s NFL history podcast is below for you to scroll through and read. A notes tab that includes a Table of Contents is available next to the share button. The Game before the Money Podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts.

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Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Welcome to The Game Before the Money Podcast. Brought to you by NB Autographs .com . That’s N as in Namath, B as in Biletnikoff NB Autographs .com. The Game Before the Money Podcast.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Celebrating pro and college football history. One legend at a time.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Hi, everybody, welcome to the game for the Money podcast brought to you by NB Autographs .com. . I’m Jackson Michael, author of the book The Game Before the Money, published by the University of Nebraska Press. I also wrote and directed. We Were The Oilers, The Luv Ya Blue Era. A Documentary of the Luv Ya Blue Era Houston Oilers.

Intro/Growing up in Arkansas

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Both are available at Amazon.com. The book is available also at Barnes,& Noble and the University of Nebraska press Web site. This episode, we get to chat with Rand’s legend, Eddie Meador, who still, even though he retired nearly a half century ago at the end of the 1970 season, he is still the Rams all time interception leader and tied for the most interceptions returned for touchdowns in team history. Eddie Meador, a six time Pro Bowl selection at safety, twice named All-Pro, and is a member of the 1960s Pro Football Hall of Fame All Decade Team. Now the other two safeties on that team. Larry Wilson and Willie Wood are in the Hall of Fame. And we’ll tell you later how you can nominate Eddie for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well. He’s one of those guys that hasn’t been inducted yet, but certainly deserves to be in there. Eddie was born in Texas in 1937, but while he was a youngster, his family moved a Russellville, Arkansas, at that time.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
When in Russellville was about maybe, maybe 12000, 15000 people. So it was kind of like being in the country.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Eddie’s family lived on a farm outside of town and also owned a laundromat. Living on the farm made it difficult getting to and from school, especially when football practice ran late. So Eddie came up with a solution.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
Well, my mother and daddy had a laundromat and they also had a little farm outside of town. And I just fixed me a bed in the back end of that laundromat and stayed there. I just lived in the back of the laundromat.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
From living in the back of a laundromat to becoming one of the greatest defensive backs in Los Angeles Rams history. You might guess that the road between the two wasn’t easily paved. Eddie worked hard and lettered in 3 sports in high school and made All-state in football. He helped to play college football at Texas A&M.

College Football

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
I really wanted to go to Texas A&M National and Bear Bryant was down there and we had a fellow from Russellville, John Gilbert, who was his name that was on football team at A&M. So I’d kind of like to go down there. Mainly, I guess, because I was originally from Texas. We moved from Texas to Arkansas when I was in high school and kind of wanted to get back to Texas.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Eddie had a chance to meet with A&M to discuss playing football.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
I went down and visited with the people at A&M and they looked at me and said, “I you’re probably too small to play in Southwest Conference.” So that kind of broke my heart. So I came on back then I tried to go to University of Tulsa and they had the same feelings towards me.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
So two colleges told Eddie he was too small to play. But we know that’s not where the story ends. Sometimes people destined for success just need an opportunity. Eddie was given his opportunity in his own backyard.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
Arkansas Tech is in Russellville. And of course, they had seen me play my senior year. So they offered me a scholarship. I said, “I better jump on that.”

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
And jump on that he did. Now, you might not have heard of Arkansas Tech’s football team. They’re called the Wonder Boys. And Texas A&M has put nearly 300 people into the NFL, including Hall of Famer. Yale Larry. Tulsa, over 150 players, including Hall of Famers Steve Largent and Bob St Clair, Arkansas Tech’s NFL legacy? To this day, Eddie has played more NFL seasons than all the other players in Arkansas Tech football history combined. In fact, he’s almost doubled that number. But the Ed Meador story is a great example of what you can do when given an opportunity. Meador played offense, defense and returned kicks on special teams. He rushed for over thirty 400 yards in his Arkansas tech career and made the All Arkansas intercollegiate conference team three years in a row and led the Wonder Boys to the Conference Championship his senior year. That senior season, Eddie was voted on the little all American team, an all American team made of players from smaller colleges. That put him on the roster in the Optimist Bowl in Tucson, Arizona. Now, those of you who have read the book, The Game Before the Money, you might remember that Denver Broncos Ring of Fame member Goose Gonsoulin credited the Optimist Bowl for putting him in front of Broncos scouts and ultimately helping him get into pro ball. Ed Meador shares with us a similar story about that game.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
It was a game that pitted the major college All- Americans against the small college All-Americans. The Rams scout was there and his name was Eddie Kotal. And I guess he kind of liked what he saw. They wanted to know if I’d be interested in play and I said I certainly would. So consequently, they drafted me.

Drafted by the Los Angeles Rams

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
The Los Angeles Rams drafted Eddie as the 80th overall selection in the 1959 NFL draft. Back then, there were only twelve NFL teams, so the 80th overall pick was selected in the seventh round. In today’s world, with 32 NFL teams, the 80th overall selection is in the third round of the NFL draft. A 2017 Business Insider article states that under the current collective bargaining agreement, a third round draft choice in today’s world can expect a contract around 3.3 million dollars. Things were a little bit different when you’re the 80th overall selection in the 1959 draft.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
I was a seventh round choice in 1959 and I signed the contract as a rookie for seventy five hundred dollars and they gave me a $500 bonus to sign. So my rookie year I made a total of eight thousand dollars. And of course, back then, you know, the dollars were worth a lot more than they are today.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
I used the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator to estimate the $8000 in 1959 equates to about $70000 at the beginning of 2019. Still a far cry from the 3.3 million dollar multi-year contract that the 80th overall selection might expect to pull down in today’s NFL. Of course, in The Game Before the Money era, the thrill of playing the game outweighed the size of the contract. Ed tells us what it was like to step on the field at the L.A. Coliseum playing for the Rams in his first exhibition game.

First NFL preseason game

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
That was quite an experience. It was the annual Times charity game in L.A. and I walked out of the tunnel of the Coliseum to look in the stands and there’s over 100,000 people in the stands. And that’s more people than I had played before in three years of high school and four years of college and all put together.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Eddie says he had never been to a pro football game before, and thus he ended up starting the first pro football game he ever attended. The energy was high in the L.A. Coliseum and the crowd was loud.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
I had a little trouble hearing the signals and everything and I thought, “Well, I’m probably not going to make this ball club.” I think I missed several of the signals because of the crowd, but it was quite an experience, I’ll say for sure.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Rams head coach Sid Gillman kept Eddie Meador on the roster, despite him missing a few signals in their first exhibition game. Ed would go on to have three interceptions that year. Unfortunately for the Rams, that total was higher than the number of wins they would have that season. The Rams only won two games and Sid Gillman was out the next year, replaced by another Hall of Famer, Bob Waterfield. As we discussed a little bit earlier, salaries were quite a bit different back then and Ed worked in the offseason, like most professional football players at the time.

NFL players working off-season jobs

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
I worked with a steel company in Los Angeles in the off season. And then I did a lot of public speaking at banquets and at different meetings and so forth. And back then, we were lucky if we’d get $25 to speak. So, of course, like I said, the dollar back then was a little bit more than it is today.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
In fact, after my rookie year I said “Man, I’m going to guy me a new car.” I went down to Felix Chevrolet in L.A. and got a Chevrolet station wagon for seven thousand dollars or something like that. It was just unbelievable. And that same vehicle today costs forty, fifty thousand dollars.

Deacon Jones

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
The Rams doubled their win total in 1960. Ed had four interceptions that year, returned one for a touchdown, and made the Pro Bowl roster. In 1961, the Rams drafted Deacon Jones.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
Deacon was quite a character and one heck of a ballplayer. And he was the beginning of the Fearsome Foursome.

Rams Fearsome Foursome

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
The Fearsome Foursome was the Rams defensive line in the 1960s, featuring Lamar Lundy at Defensive end with Deacon Jones. The Rams would then draft defensive tackle. Merlin Olsen out of Utah State in 1962. And then in 1963, acquire Rosie Greer from the New York Giants. In the late 1960s, Roger Brown would become part of that group playing defensive tackle, coming over from the Detroit Lions after Rosie Greer retired. To this day, that Defensive line is still recognized as one of the greatest defensive lines in NFL history. Eddie tells us what it was like to play behind that defensive line, as well as a pretty solid set of linebackers.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
I think it certainly helped the secondary because the pressure that those guys put on the quarterback, it was just a pleasure to play behind those guys. And of course, the linebackers that we had with Jack Pardee, Les Richter, Maxie Baughan and guys like that, too. With those seven guys, the pressure on the quarterback was tremendous and made it, I think, a little bit easier on us defensive backs.

Eddie Meador — Defensive Playmaker

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Commentators and reporters covering today’s NFL. Would you use terms such as ball hawk and defensive playmaker to describe Eddie Meador’s play. According to the USA Today, Eddie not only holds the Rams team record in interceptions, but also fumble recoveries and blocked kicks. In fact, the USA Today credits him with 10 career blocks kicks.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
Maybe I had a little bit of a nose for the football. I just tried my best to turn the ball over some way to our offense.

Broken NFL helmet, possible concussion during NFL game

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Having a nose for the football often put Eddie in the thick of the action. And in the world of pro football, it can also be dangerous. Eddie tells us about a violent collision he had with Packers running back Paul Hornung.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
He came through the line of scrimmage and hit me with his knee. I guess it was the left side of the helmet. Cracked that thing all the way to the top.

The Rams discarded Eddie’s cracked helmet, gave them a new one, and he played the rest of the game.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
And I didn’t remember a whole lot in that ballgame, at least for 30 or 40 minutes I didn’t. Back then they would break smelling salts in front of you and, “Get back in there son and play.”

NFL coach George Allen

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
The Rams continued to languish with a losing record through the first half of Meador’s career. Then in 1966, the Los Angeles Rams hired George Allen as head coach.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
Probably the greatest coach that I ever had. He was a hundred and twenty percent football. He’s the kind of guy that if you go in the practice session and say, “Good morning, Coach!” He’ll say, “Boy, you gotta watch that Raymond Berry. He’s tough and you better be thinking about him a lot.” Everything he was was about football.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
And not just any kind of football.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
George Allen was about winning football. In 1966,

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Allen’s first year as head coach of the Rams. The Rams finished 8-6. That was the team’s first winning record in nearly a decade. The record was good enough to finish third in the NFL’s Western Conference. The next year, 1967, the NFL divided itself into four divisions. The Rams won eleven games and won the new Coastal Division, which put them in the NFL playoffs. Even though the Rams lost in the first round of the playoffs, the eleven regular season winds set a franchise record.

Rams rallying behind head coach George Allen

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Those of you who have listened to other episodes of our podcast might remember Ron McDole talking about how popular George Allen was with the Washington Redskins Players. Meador shares with us a story that demonstrates just how loyal the Rams players were to their head coach. The situation involved Rams owner Dan Reeves. Not to be confused with the Dan Reeves who was playing for the Dallas Cowboys at the time and later became head coach of the Broncos, Giants and Falcons.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
Dan Reeves had somehow, I don’t know, he and George Allen got crossways and they were in the first steps of firing George Allen. Not only myself, but Jack Pardee, Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy and all the guys stood up for George Allen.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Eddie and several of his teammates said they’d want to be traded if the Rams fired Coach Allen and the Rams ownership backed away from the move. The team kept its winning ways and never had a losing season under Allen. Eddie, meanwhile, was named All-Pro in 1968 and 1969 and made the Pro Bowl for five consecutive seasons. He talks about what playing in the Pro Bowl was like in those days.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
You didn’t have all the complicated plays and things. You didn’t have time to practice all of them. It was kind of basic football at that point. What I enjoyed about it was I was associated with players from all over the league and become good friends with several of them.

NFLPA — Head of NFL Players Association

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Eddie was not only recognized for his talent on the field, but also his leadership. At one point, the Rams selected Eddie as their representative to the players union.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
Later on in 69, I believe it was, I was selected as president of the Players Association.

John Mackey, Colts, NFLPA

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Many of you might think of the Colts great John Mackey when thinking of the president of the Players Association. Eddie tells us the backstory as to how Mackey became president.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
Of course, at that time there was the American Football League had started. So the president of the American Football League and me, we felt like the whole organization, both the American Football League and the National Football League, should vote on a representative to become president of the Players Association. And that’s what we did.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
And John Mackey was elected.

Final Game and NFL Retirement

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Not long after his short stint as president of the NFL Players Association. Eddie Meador placed his cleats on the shelf and retired from pro football.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
I got to the point physically where I really couldn’t practice during the week and just played on the weekends.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Eddie retired after the 1970 season, his 12th year in the league. He suffered a serious injury in his final game.

EDDIE MEADOR: Los Angeles Rams legend, 1960s NFL All-Decade Team, former NFLPA president:
The very last game of the year and the last game that I played in, Deacon Jones broke my back. I was tackling Ken Willard,of the Forty Niners, and had him around the knees. I was sitting on my behind with my legs spread out. Deacon come across the field and hit me in the small of the back and it popped like a shotgun. You know, he did not do it intentionally, of course, but because he was so riled up about the ball game and everything, I guess he just thought he would have me tackle Ken Willard. I hated to get out that way because I do know that I’ve had three back operations in the last five years and have kind of a tough time getting around early in the morning especially. But of course, I’m 81 years old.

Ed Meador, Hall of Fame, Nominate

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
A few years ago, a movement started with the objective of getting Ed Meador into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You can go to Ed Meador 21 dot com and follow the links on how to nominate Ed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And that Web site also has a lot of great info on Ed, his life, and career. And so fans of that era of football, especially Los Angeles Rams fans, will want to check that out. And for just right now we’ll recap some of his career statistics: 46 interceptions, which is the Rams All-Time Record and is going to stay the Rams All-Time record for quite a while because nobody active is close to that. He’s also tied for the all time team lead with five interceptions returned for touchdowns. According to pro football reference, he recovered 22 fumbles. And as a Pro Football Hall of Fame Web site points out, he’s a tremendous open field tackler. He’s on the Pro Football Hall of Fame All Decade team for the 1960s. And as I said before, the other two safeties, Larry Wilson and Willie Wood, are both in the Hall of Fame. Ed Meador, made six Pro Bowls and All-Pro twice at a time when both of those safeties were playing, as well as Hall of Famers Yale Larry and Paul Krause. So be sure to visit Ed Meador 21 dot com that’s Ed Meador M- e- a- d- o- r 21 dot com to learn a little bit more about Eddie. And if you’re so inclined, nominate him for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
A special thanks to Eddie for interviewing for this podcast and a special thanks to you for listening to the Game Before the Money Podcast presented by NB Autographs .com. That’s N as in Namath, B as in Biletnikoff – NB Autographs .com.

Narrator: Jackson Michael, author of football history book of THE GAME BEFORE THE MONEY:
Please visit the Web site. The Game Before the Money.com. All opinions expressed on this show. Aren’t necessarily shared by anyone else, including our sponsors.

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Looking for a great NFL history book? Check out The Game Before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL available at — Amazon.comBarnes and NobleUniversity of Nebraska Press

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