Profiling The Man In The Middle: Brad Meester

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via cache.daylife.com

Look at the above photograph. This article is about one of those players. No, not Fred Taylor and not Byron Leftwich. It's about the guy that led the way for Fred Taylor and protected Byron Leftwich in his short stint in Jacksonville as the Jags' starting quarterback. This is about the Jags' man in the middle of all the action, the guy who is always in the thick of the action. The man that can REALLY appreciate if quarterback David Garrard used hand warmers, Jaguars starting center Brad Meester.

I took on the responsibility to profile Brad Meester because, well he's always been one of my favorite Jaguars. I've always thought Brad got overlooked and was under-appreciated. As I discovered more about the Jags starting center I found out not only has he been a good ball player for many seasons but Brad is a devoted family man and a very strong individual that has overcome tragedy and for that Brad not only has my attention but my utmost respect.

Brad is from the tiny town of Parkersburg, Iowa. At Aplington-Parkersburg high school he earned all district honors twice (linebacker) before garnering all state honors as a lineman his senior year and helping his school win the state title his junior. Brad went onto Northern Iowa where he was a four year starter at center for the Panthers. Meester graduated with a business degree and a 3.76 gpa.

 

He was a second round draft pick by the Jaguars in the 2000 NFL Draft. As a rookie Brad started all sixteen contests at left guard and was considered a good looking young offensive line prospect. He was named to several all-rookie teams by pro football writers and was well on his way to having a very good career in the NFL. In his first go around at center since college Brad allowed just half a sack and was called for two penalties. Since that move Brad has been the rock in the middle of the offensive line. He proved he could not only play center in the NFL but play it at a high level.

Brad's been the quarterback of the Jags offensive line for seven seasons now but he usually went unheralded. Being overlooked until you screw up is par for the course, such is the life of an offensive lineman. I'm sure we all can recall the botched snap against the Vikings last season but that's one foul up in ten seasons, I'd call that pretty good career so far. Although Brad has been a more than just a solid member of the offensive line since 2000. Although the rock began to chip away. In 2005 while playing the Cleveland, Brad tore his biceps and missed a playoff game against the New England Patriots. The final four games of 2005 where the first games Meester missed since entering the NFL.

In 2006 Brad moved back into the starting line up and did not miss a single offensive snap. With Meester back in the line up the Jaguars began a two year stretch of producing one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL. In a wrinkle of the offense the coaching staff began to pull Meester on sweeps and Brad became so adept at pulling that the sweep became a staple of the offense. If you ask me Meester should have been named to the pro bowl for his performances in 2006 and 2007 where he again led the offensive line in paving the way for the NFL's second best rushing attack. I've always said if you want anonymity play on an offensive line in the NFL, if you want to rival the federal witness protection program play offensive line for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Brad has been a player that didn't wow you when you looked at him. He isn't overly big or strong but he is smart and tough, two qualities that can sometimes be overlooked. Meester is a technician, he doesn't overpower his opponents, he understands how you win up front and that is with leverage, not always brute strength.

As mentioned above Brad is a smart and tough individual and no doubt those characteristics where instilled in him in his hometown of Parkersburgh, Iowa. If that name rings a bell it should. Last year a F-5 tornado ripped through the tiny town of just 1800 residents reaking havoc and leaving nothing but carnage in its wake. As a response Meester, with the backing of the Jaguars organization, raised funds for Parkersburg by selling hats at last year's training camp. The "A-P" caps sold well and the funds that were raised were sent with Brad back to Parkersburg to help ease the aftermath of the storm. Parkersburg is a small town, with a big heart that was able to overcame a severe storm but nothing could prepare them for what would come next.

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via images.footballfanatics.com

Ed Thomas, the man who coached Meester and other NFL players such as Casey Wiegmann, Jared DeVries and Aaron Kampman was shot to death by a former student earlier this summer. Thomas was the coach at Aplington-Parkersburg high school for 34 seasons two of which culminated in state titles. As expected Meester took the news hard and reiterated his and his family's intention to move back to Parkersburg after his NFL career is over.

Meester on Thomas:

"He treated each and every one of us like we were his kids. He truly did care for each and every one of us and that's one of the greatest things about him that will always be remembered. I know that each of us who have been through that program and been with him will take so much from that and everything that he's taught us about being a man we take into our every day life. We're able to take that into life with our families, with our job and we thank him for that."

Brad is also a very devoted family man. Brad's wife, Jamie and their four daughters, Lily, Sophia, Chloe and Emma are significant in their lives. Brad's home life is probably one of the biggest reasons he can often be found volunteering in many community initiatives such as HabiJax.

So who is Brad Meester? Put it simply he's the starting center for the Jacksonville Jaguars but I'd be doing him a disservice if I left it at that. Brad is a tremendous guy, a dedicated family man, a pillar in the community of Jacksonville, a role model for younger athletes and the type of smart, hard nosed football player every Jaguars fan can be proud of.

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