After years in minors, Meehan wants to pass to an NFL job

SEMIPRO FOOTBALL

September 20, 1992|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

It is turning yellow now, but Ron Meehan still has that newspaper clipping as testimony to his brief association with David Shula as Colts teammates.

The headline on the article that appeared near the end of training camp in 1982 read: "Shula, Meehan among 19 released by Colts."

Today, Shula is the Cincinnati Bengals' head coach. Meehan is in his eighth year as a driver and beer salesman for Winner Distributing Co., and in his 12th season of trying to make it to the NFL in some role, any role.

You'd better believe he's using his old teammate, Shula, as a contact and reference. For starters, he is sending job resumes to a few state colleges.

"My aim is to somehow become connected with the NFL, as a coach, scout, grading film, whatever," Meehan said as he stood under the lights at Stemmers Run Middle School the other night before practice with the Baltimore Bears, a semi-pro team.

Meehan, a graduate of Woodlawn High and a record-setting passer at Towson State, is 33, probably nearing the end as a quarterback, even at the minor-league level.

He was acclaimed Player of the Year last season in the 100-team American Football Association after leading the Bears to the championship of the 12-team Mason-Dixon League and a No. 4 ranking in the AFA.

In his seven years of minor-league football, Meehan has played in the title game every year. On his finger is a Mason-Dixon XTC championship ring from last year.

"Back-to-back rings and I'm done," Meehan said, meaning he'll retire if the Bears win again this year. "Every team I've played for has been pass-oriented. I've got more wins than losses. I've been a winner."

Meehan has played somewhere every year since leaving Towson State. He went to training camp with the Colts and Oakland Raiders (twice), only to be released after making cameo appearances in preseason games. He played 1 1/2 months with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Canada, appeared in three games with the USFL Washington Federals in 1985 and spent the ensuing years with semi-pro teams in Chambersburg, Pa., Frederick and Baltimore.

Asked why he has subjected himself to the battering year after year with little or no pay, Meehan smiled.

"I spent all those years trying to get a piece of the apple pie in the NFL, but just smelled it," he said. "This fulfills it in a way, although it is harder to get out of bed on Monday mornings."

In his youth, Meehan said he could move faster than he could think. Now he thinks faster than he moves. He did not, however, think fast enough to avoid a banged shin in last Sunday's 25-23 loss to the Metro (D.C.) Bulls.

Although he was limping at practice, Meehan indicated he expected to play against the Washington Stonewalls today at 1 p.m. at Patterson High School.

"I'll be able to play," Meehan said.

In five games, Meehan has completed 41 of 85 passes for 569 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted six times in last Sunday's loss, the Bears' first. The other quarterback, Joe Baker, who played at Southern Illinois, has passed for 308 yards.

The Bears, who joined the Mason-Dixon League in 1986, had won four straight until stunned by the Bulls Sunday. The team was not only wary of the Bulls, but of the Washington neighborhood in which the game was played.

"We heard gun shots during the game," Bears vice president and assistant coach Rick Ramirez said.

"The fans took it lightly."

The team is comforted by the fact its next five games are in relatively safe territory in the Baltimore area.

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