State Your Case: Eddie Meador
All-decade safety from the 1960s still waiting the call from Canton
(Published October 2014)
Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and John Lynch have reminded us in the last decade the value of an impact safety on a defense.
Sadly, the NFL had long since forgotten.
Safety is the most undervalued position in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Also the most overlooked. There are only seven pure safeties in Canton and three others who were Pro Bowl cornerbacks before moving to safety to finish out their careers (Mel Renfro, Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson).
Eddie Meador is the definition of undervalued and overlooked.
Meador played 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams from 1959-70. He became both a Pro Bowl cornerback and safety in his career. He set franchise records that still stand today for career interceptions (46), fumble recoveries (22) and blocked kicks (10). The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee chose him to the NFL all-decade team for the 1960s at safety.
Then the football community forgot about Eddie Meador. His five-year waiting period for Canton expired, but his name never came up for discussion as a finalist. He’s been eligible now for 39 years and is still waiting for his 15 minutes of discussion as a finalist.
Meador didn’t fail as a player. But the Hall of Fame selection process has failed him.
Meador was selected by the Rams in the seventh round of the 1959 draft out of tiny Arkansas Tech, where he played football, basketball and ran sprints for the track team. He put his speed to good use in the NFL, becoming a walk-in starter at right cornerback as a rookie.
Meador moved to left cornerback the following season, intercepted four passes and was selected for his first Pro Bowl. He stayed there for three more seasons, intercepting a career-best six passes at the cornerback position in 1963 before his move to safety in 1964.
Meador then went to five consecutive Pro Bowls, intercepting a career-high eight passes at the safety position in 1967. When George Allen arrived as head coach of the Rams in 1966, he installed Meador as team captain.
The Rams never experienced a winning season in Meador’s first seven years. But with Meador as captain, the Rams would not suffer any losing seasons in his final five years.
Twice the Rams qualified for the playoffs during the Meador era but lost both games to teams that would go on to play in the Super Bowl — Green Bay in 1967 and Minnesota in 1969. Meador intercepted Bart Starr in that Green Bay playoff loss and Joe Kapp in that Minnesota loss.
Meador also was the holder on placement kicks for the Rams and rushed for 59 yards and a touchdown on six fakes. In 1968 Meador won the Byron “Whizzer” White Man of the Year Award “for service to his team, community and country,” and in 1969 served as the president of the NFL Players Association.
“I always saw Eddie as a tough guy who probably knew more football than most people ever dream about,” said Tom Mack, a Hall of Fame teammate with the Rams. “His knowledge of what people were going to do before the ball was snapped as his greatest strength.
“Smart, instinctive and aggressive are the three words that come to mind when I think of Eddie Meador.”
I can also think of three other words — Hall of Fame.