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Free Agency Roundup: Robert Meachem
The Chargers didn’t wait long to snag one of the top catches on the 2012 free agent market, agreeing to terms with former New Orleans Saint Robert Meachem on a four-year contract just hours after he became available. A first-round pick in 2007 and a Super Bowl champion with the Saints following the 2009 season, Meachem has an impressive resume that includes 141 career catches, 2,269 yards (16.1 avg.) and 23 touchdowns.
The 27-year-old was ranked 47th on SI.com’s list of the Top 50 available free agents in 2012 and he’s expected to fit right into Norv Turner’s offensive system. Meachem was raised in Tulsa, Okla., where he owns an 8.5-acre farm that his grandfather, Leon, passed down to Robert when he was born. The farm is where he learned to ride horses and rope calves before he turned six and it provided a safe haven from Tulsa’s notoriously violent street gangs. His dad was an accomplished calf roper himself and the two of them traveled to rodeos in California, Nevada, Texas and Louisiana when Meachem was a child. His very first horse was named “Little Man.”
As a child, Meachem also fell in love with basketball. When his father built a regulation-height basket on the farm, he would shoot hoops while sitting on his horse. As a middle and high schooler, Meachem was one of the nation’s best young players. As an eighth grader, he led his AAU team to a national title and in the ninth grade he faced a team that featured LeBron James and dunked over the Miami Heat star early in the contest. His success on the hardwood continued into high school as he led Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High to back-to-back state titles following the 2001 and ’02 seasons. Football, however, was Meachem’s ticket to success so the Parade All- America receiver took his talents to the University of Tennessee where he blossomed into an All-America choice. He opted to leave Tennessee after his junior season and the Saints chose him with the 27th overall pick in the ’07 NFL Draft.
Meachem has a very spiritual side to him. It comes from his late sister, Tammie, who was 12 years older and helped raise him as a child. She taught him about tough love and helped him develop into a young man. Tammie though suffered from severe asthma and a non-related skin disease and she passed when Meachem was just in the seventh grade.
Robert and his wife, Shea, have two daughters, Adrianna and Ryli, and they played a major role in his decision to come to San Diego. The Meachem’s have been very active in the community, hosting Christmas toy drives in New Orleans while also running the Follow Your Dreams Foundation, whose mission is to help youth get involved in community activities and to help provide them with avenues to participate in sports, music lessons and cultural activities. In association with the Foundation, Meachem awards college scholarships and he hosts a football camp in Tulsa that is only open to kids who participate in his Read 60 Program, a literacy program that encourages young people ages 8-18 to take 60 minutes each day to read.
One of Meachem’s distant cousins is former Chargers wide receiver and kick returner, Eric Metcalf.