Ed Meixler has his place in NFL history but Saratoga Springs High School will always be the place that got him there.
“Saratoga, I owe a lot to. It was a great town, I made a lot of friends and I’ve got a lot of ‘thank yous’ just for the ability to grow up there and play in their system,” said Meixler, 67.
The high school has a ‘thank you’ for Meixler, too, which is why he’s one of 11 former graduates being inducted into the 2011 Blue Streak Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 9.
“The nominating process was open to the public and we received many nominations for former student-athletes, coaches, administrators and contributors,” said Peter Sheehan, director of athletics and physical education. “Our selection committee chose these 11 individuals for induction into our 2011 and we are looking forward to celebrating their accomplishments as members of the Saratoga athletic community.”
When Meixler graduated in 1961, he left Saratoga Springs and never looked back. This trip home, though, will be special because of a fellow HOF inductee.
“I played basketball my last year for Bill Dalrymple. He was the best in all my years, one of the biggest influences on my life as a coach and as a human being and I can’t say enough about him as a person,” said Meixler. “He was probably the best coach I ever had; he believed in me more than I believed in myself.”
Dalrymple was Meixler’s line coach for football and then basketball coach when the team went 16-2 and made it to sections.
“Bill took an interest in me and gave me the encouragement that I could play on the college level and he related me to a few of the real good ballplayers he’d had play for him years back,” said Meixler.
Meixler took Dalrymple’s confidence to heart and after a stand out season as linebacker on Boston University’s football team (courtesy of a full four-year scholarship) he was drafted 17th round in the 1965 draft.
“It was a good experience. A lot of guys dream of it, some get a chance,” said Meixler. “I didn’t have a lengthy career because of injuries and then life moves on.”
Meixler’s pro football career was cut short after just two years when he broke his leg in an exhibition game against the Jets and suffered numerous concussions. He doesn’t have any regrets, though, because football was much different back then, he said.
“Today the money is big. Back then, my first contract was $10,500 a year and my second year was $11,000. It’s not like it is today where it’s a full-time job and you get paid big bucks,” said Meixler.
Though but a glimmer in his past, Meixler remembers draft day vividly. There were 10 teams drafting 140 players, the league was still split into NFL and AFL and it was a convoluted game of secrecy.
“I was coerced into going to Pittsburgh as a guest of the Steelers the weekend of the draft and hidden out. Being ‘babysat’ was the term that was used and I was hidden out by the Steelers who said I’d be drafted in the third or fourth round,” said Meixler.
Those rounds came and went and because Meixler was spending the draft in the hotel of the Steelers, other teams weren’t drafting him and he kept getting pushed back.
“Nobody wanted to draft you unless they had a commitment from you that you were interested in playing with them. Different teams were calling my house up in Boston and my father said ‘He can be reached at this hotel in Pittsburgh” so they knew I was down as a guest of the Steelers,” said Meixler.
The Steelers finally made him an offer but he quickly said “no.”
“I got so furious because I saw what happened. It was in the days before agents,” said Meixler.
Instead, he signed with the Boston Patriots (now New England Patriots).
“Most little kids dream of fit and I meet some great players and had a chance to play with some great players,” said Meixler. “If you get hurt today, contracts are a lot better because of the unions. Back then, they quickly replaced you … it is a brutal game.”
Meixler said goodbye to football and made his career in the automobile business and real estate. Now retired he lives just outside Charlotte, NC.
Sheehan said Meixler was one of about 50 total nominations sent in by the community.
Guidelines for nominations are on the district’s website but in general, inductees are individuals whose support “played a critical role in the strength of school and community athletic programs.”
Other inductees besides Meixler and his former coach, Dalrymple, are Keith Cummings, Kevin Cummings, Erin Davis, John Nichols, Don Pepper, George Perkins, Scott Perkins and Katherine and Ralph Stacey. They will be recognized during the high school’s first home football game on Sept. 9 and given a plaque in the trophy case in the lobby of the “blue gym.” The induction occurs at 4:30 p.m. in the Meade Auditorium.