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Free Agency Roundup: Eddie Royal
The Chargers landed one of the NFL’s top free agent offensive and special teams threats when they signed former Denver Bronco Eddie Royal to a three-year contract in March. The Chargers had stiff competition for the Chantilly, Virginia native as his hometown Washington Redskins were also in hot pursuit of the former Bronco.
Chargers fans will remember Royal’s exploits during a nationally-televised ESPN Monday Night Football game in 2009 when he returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the first half of a 34-23 Broncos’ win. In total, Royal has returned three punts and kickoffs for touchdowns and he’s one of only four players (former Charger Darren Sproles, Minnesota’s Percy Harvin and Chicago’s Devin Hester) in the NFL to total at least 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 2,000 return yards since 2008.
Compactly built at 5-10 and 185 pounds, Royal opened eyes at the NFL Combine in 2008 when he bench-pressed 225 pounds 24 times, most among all receivers at the Combine. The Broncos made him a second-round pick that year and he immediately let his presence be felt, racking up nine catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut against the Oakland Raiders. When the ’08 season concluded, Royal earned All-Rookie honors from both Pro Football Weekly and the Professional Football Writers of America, as well as by The Sporting News after a season in which he posted the second-most catches by an NFL rookie, totaling 91 catches for 980 yards and five touchdowns. Royal also set Broncos rookie records in all three categories, he led all NFL rookies in those categories, and he became the league’s first player since the NFL merger in 1970 to record his team’s longest run, reception, kickoff return and punt return in the same season.
Royal’s career achievements are all the more remarkable considering that he suffered from asthma as a child. Royal was the youngest of Pearl Royal’s seven children and three of his siblings also suffered from asthma. Fortunately, the Medical Care for Children Partnership (MCCP) in Fairfax, Virginia provided the needed medical resources and all four of the kids received the treatment that they needed. Several years ago when Royal signed an endorsement deal with a t-shirt company called Gameday Passion, part of the agreement was that a portion of the proceeds would support MCCP.
Royal’s sister, Capt. Christina Royal, is a graduate of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and she is currently a special agent in the United States Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations. Christina was the first-ever female regimental commander and the first-ever African-American regimental commander for the Corps of Cadets, where she was in charge of all the cadets at the school. Royal’s brother, Chris, played defensive back at Marshall University from 2002-05 and he later played in the Arena Football and AF2 Leagues. In 2007, Chris was the Spalding Rookie of the Year for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers of AF2. Currently, he is a graduate assistant coach at Marshall.