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Catching Up With ... former Navy running back Eddie Meyers

Navy's Eddie Meyers didn't get to play much in the NFL, but is perfectly happy as a regional bank president.

They called him Fast Eddie, though he'd as soon run over football defenders as around them. For three years, Eddie Meyers carried Navy's offense, smashing school rushing records and leading the Midshipmen to three successive winning seasons (1979-81), a feat they wouldn't repeat for nearly 25 years.

As a sophomore, in only his second start, Meyers trampled Army for 279 yards and three touchdowns. As a senior, he rattled Syracuse for 298 yards and four scores and finished the year as the nation's fifth-leading rusher.

In hindsight, those games were "like a blur, a fog, an out-of-body experience," said Meyers who, at 5 feet 9, looked like anything but a big-time ball carrier. "I was a low runner and modeled myself after Walter Payton, who was both my height and shoe size (8). I would explode at defensive backs and linemen and attack them. Coach George Welsh kept saying, 'Eddie, you can't run over everyone,' but I tried. It felt good."

The NFL beckoned, but so did Meyers' six-year service hitch. He signed with Atlanta and, each summer, spent his leave sweating at the Falcons' training camp. But the military refused to bend its rules so, each autumn, Marine Lt. Eddie Meyers returned to his post as supply officer at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Discharged in 1987, he returned to the Falcons, got hurt and was released before the first game. Bitter feelings?

"There were some then, but it's water under the bridge. Not being able to play as long as I would've liked has worked out all right," said Meyers, 56, now the regional president for Georgia at PNC Bank. "I had my cup of coffee with Atlanta and scored two touchdowns (in preseason) before I got turf toe. I have friends who are NFL guys who respect what I did, how I did it and that I kept coming back every year.

"My goal was to get into banking and this job gives me thrills. I'm blessed to do something I look forward to each day and I get paid well. How much better could it get?"

How about winning a Super Bowl? Meyers paused, in thought.

"Oh yeah," he said. "It does get better."

Married 33 years, he lives in Atlanta, plays golf on weekends and works out to stay at his playing weight.

"If I start putting on a pot belly, I try to get rid of it as quick as possible," Meyers said. "I'm healthy; I have no visions of incisions."

Had he played longer, he knows, things might be different.

"With my running style and tough attitude, I might have gotten more concussions — I had six — and face mental issues," he said. "At the time, of course, you don't know what may be a blessing. You've got to move on and do what you do best."

Meyers arrived in Annapolis as a football afterthought, a blip on Navy's radar. From Pemberton, N.J., he rose from the No. 7 tailback on the depth chart in 1979 when, given the ball in the second half of Navy's eighth game, he rushed for 99 yards against Notre Dame. Against Georgia Tech, he gained 183 before ripping the Cadets for 279 yards, an Army-Navy game record that still stands.

"It was fun except when my shoulder popped out several times during the game," he said. "Every time I go see Army-Navy I think, this is the year they'll break that record — but it has held up."

As a senior, Meyers rushed for 1,318 yards despite missing three games with a bruised thigh. He was Most Valuable Player of the Liberty Bowl despite Navy's 31-28 loss to Ohio State. Meyers still ranks as the school's No. 4 all-time rusher (2,935 yards, 16 touchdowns and a 5-yard average).

On occasion, he's asked to sign footballs. But that's nothing compared to the hoopla surrounding his daughter, Elana Meyers, a two-time Olympian who won a silver medal in bobsled in the 2014 Winter Games and a bronze in 2010.

"I cherish the days when I get to carry her bags while she signs autographs," Meyers said. "People say, 'You're living your dream through your daughter.' Well, she's better than I ever was. I couldn't have done what she's done."

Has Meyers ever tried the bobsled?

"Never. Too scary," he said. "I guess I'll do it eventually — but only if Elana drives for me."

mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

twitter.com/MikeKlingaman

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