In a somber announcement that has reverberated through the football world, the Los Angeles Rams confirmed the passing of one of their most iconic figures, Eddie Meador, at the age of 86. Meador, a legendary cornerback and six-time Pro Bowler, was a key pillar of the Rams during the 1960s, leaving an indelible mark on the franchise.
Eddie Meador’s remarkable journey through football began in humble surroundings. Hailing from Russellville High School in Arkansas, Meador initially faced skepticism about his prospects on the gridiron. The football gods, however, had different plans for this tenacious player. Despite initial doubts, he went on to play for Arkansas Tech from 1955 to 1958, where his talent began to shine.
Meador’s time at Arkansas Tech laid the foundation for his illustrious career, and he soon found himself donning the blue and gold of the Los Angeles Rams in 1959. Little did anyone know that this unassuming player would go on to become one of the finest defensive backs in NFL history.
His greatness truly shone during the 1960s, a decade that saw him earn a well-deserved place on the NFL All-Decade Team. Meador’s incredible skillset, marked by his uncanny ability to read the game and fearless tackling, propelled him to a remarkable six Pro Bowl selections. His 46 interceptions, still a franchise record for the Rams, bear testament to his prowess in the defensive backfield.
In 1967, a year to remember, Meador reached the pinnacle of his career by intercepting a career-high eight passes. This achievement coincided with the Rams’ triumphant return to the postseason, ending a drought that had lasted since 1955. Meador’s contributions to that season’s success were immeasurable, as his interceptions often turned the tide in favor of the Rams.
Reflecting on his career, Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen once remarked, “Eddie Meador was one of the finest defensive backs I have ever seen.” Olsen’s praise encapsulated the essence of Meador’s playing style—fast, quick, and incredibly smart. More than just a talented athlete, Meador was also renowned for his leadership on and off the field, making him a favorite among teammates.
One of his hallmarks was his extraordinary nose for the football. Meador’s knack for creating big plays, coupled with his innate ability to galvanize his fellow players, established him as the heartbeat of the Rams. His humility and approachability endeared him to everyone, from fans to fellow players. As the Rams’ statement aptly puts it, “The Meador family and friends are at the core of our thoughts, and his legacy will live on forever.”
Meador’s excellence extended beyond interceptions. He also held the Rams’ records for opponents’ fumbles recovered and blocked kicks, showcasing his versatility as a defensive maestro. His contributions played a pivotal role in the Rams’ status as one of the best defenses in NFL history, a fact not lost on his contemporaries.
“Baltimore Colts’ Lenny Moore looks for running room as teammate, George Preas, blocks Los Angeles Rams defensive back Ed Meador,” read one headline from October 17, 1960, immortalizing Meador’s presence on the field. Meador’s contemporaries, including Hall of Fame receiver Raymond Berry, recognized him as a top competitor and a vital part of the Rams’ defensive juggernaut.
Off the field, Meador’s journey was equally inspiring. His humble beginnings and determination were the bedrock of his success, and he proved naysayers wrong time and again. Earning a scholarship at Arkansas Tech through sheer grit, he later gained recognition as a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the NAIA Collegiate Hall of Fame.
In 1968, Meador embarked on a different journey as he married his beloved Annette. Together, they raised three sons and one daughter, further solidifying the legacy of a remarkable man both on and off the field.
As we mourn the loss of Eddie Meador, his impact on the game of football, the Rams organization, and the Los Angeles community is undeniably profound. He leaves behind a legacy that transcends statistics, reminding us all that true greatness is measured not only in numbers but also in character and dedication. Eddie Meador, a Rams legend, may have left us, but his spirit will forever dwell in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to witness his remarkable journey.