Elana Meyers Taylor is nearing the end of a four-year wait to make up for a mistake that cost her Olympic gold in Sochi.
Her father waited longer — six years — to play in an NFL regular-season game. It never happened.
As Meyers Taylor lines up to make her third Olympic bobsled team, her dad helps her train. By sitting in the driver seat of black Kia Sportage as his daughter pushes the 3,500-pound SUV down a driveway.
Eddie Meyers set school rushing records at Navy in the early 1980s and was destined for the NFL. Except he first had to serve six years of military service.
For six straight summers from 1982-87, Meyers used his Marine leave to join the Atlanta Falcons training camp.
“I’m a hell of a lot hungrier now than I was when I finished at the Academy in 1982,” Meyers said in 1986, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve been waiting a long time. It’s been driving me crazy for five years.”
He played exhibition games — 23 carries, 108 yards, one touchdown in total, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — but never in the regular season. Dreams deferred. Duty called.
“I wrote up several different types of appeals,” Meyers, who became a regional president of PNC Bank in Atlanta, told NBC News. “The Marine Corps just would not allow it.”
Once the six years were up, Meyers suffered a toe injury in the 1987 preseason and was later released.
“I know it’s a sore subject for him, so he doesn’t bring it up very often,” Meyers Taylor said.
In 2006, the Meyers were watching the Torino Winter Games when Elana’s mother suggested she try bobsled.
At the time, Elana was a college softball player with Olympic aspirations. She wouldn’t make the team for 2008, which would be softball’s last time on the Olympic program (until 2020, we learned last year).
But she had the short, explosive build like her father. Perfect for pushing Kia Sportages. Or bobsleds. Her dad enlisted one of his former teammates, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, to be her fitness coach.
“My father’s NFL dreams never really felt like motivation to me, but it was something to aspire to,” Meyers Taylor said. “He was such a great athlete, the least I could do is try and use my athletic talent to represent my country in a different way. He represented as a Marine. Maybe I could do something to represent as an athlete.”
Meyers Taylor was a push athlete for Erin Pac at Vancouver 2010 and took bronze. She transitioned to driving a bobsled after that and was leading the Sochi Olympic event after three of four runs.
But Meyers Taylor made a mistake out of the second corner and skid in her final run. She fell to silver, one tenth of a second behind Canadian Kaillie Humphries, her training partner and the 2010 Olympic champion.
“As I go on with my career, even if I win a gold medal I’m sure that I won’t forget the pain I feel right now,” Meyers Taylor blogged from Sochi, titled “Silver Lining,” “but if I am fortunate enough to win a gold medal, I know it will be because of this moment.”
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