Former North Rowan star gets part in Leatherheads
By Margaret Allen
For the Salisbury Post
Shannon Myers, a former standout at North Rowan has the perfect role in the upcoming movie “Leatherheads.”
He’s a football player.
Myers, who graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne in 1997, was drafted by the Miami Dolphins and spent several years as a professional football player, most notably in Canada. The movie gave Myers a chance to relive some of those experiences.
The movie, starring George Clooney and Renee Zellweger, is a romantic comedy set during professional football’s formative years in the 1920s. Myers appears in several game scenes.
Myers was one of 50 athletes chosen for football player roles out of some 2,500 who tried out. It took about five months of on-and-off shooting in different North Carolina and South Carolina cities to film the game scenes, according to Myers.
“I learned it was a lot of sit- around-and-wait,” Myers said.
He would report to the set at 6 a.m. to get his hair and makeup done. The day-long shoot would typically start at 7 a.m.
“The hardest part was getting up that early,” he said.
Myers was one of five of the original players called back to appear in the climactic game at the end of the film. It took a week to shoot in Charlotte.
The script called for a game played in the mud, so all the actors had to wear mud-soaked uniforms that weren’t washed for a week. Myers often found himself facing off against Clooney in the mock games. The stars weren’t athletic, so the extras wound up teaching them how to move like football players.
Professional football was a lot different in the 1920s, Myers said. The padding and helmets were primitive by today’s standards, and there wasn’t much of a passing game.
The coaches in the movie are depicted as fighting and drinking on the sidelines.
The acting was easy compared to the real experience of playing a professional football game.
“It was a whole lot easier on the body” Myers chuckled. “You weren’t there to hurt each other. You were there to pretend. If a play didn’t go exactly right, they just re-shot it. You just don’t get do-overs in real life.”
Myers’ real professional football career after being drafted by the Dolphins in 1995. He suffered a serious kidney injury in training camp that sidelined him.
He returned to Lenoir-Rhyne and graduated in 1997. He then played in the Canadian Football League for the Edmonton Eskimos in 1997-1998. He later had stints with Tampa Bay, Oakland and the New York Jet.
From there, he went to NFL Europe where he played for the Rhein Fire in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Myers has been inducted into the Lenoir-Rhyne and South Atlantic Conference halls of fame.
Myers’ competitive spirit led him to a new venture, as a tire changer in NASCAR. Myers has been on several Nextel Cup teams over the years, working for Kyle Petty, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr.
Myers was part of Earnhardt’s team in 2003 when they won the Daytona 500. He was also on the Truex team when they won the Busch Series Championship in 2004 and 2005.
Myers is now a tire changer for driver John Andretti of BAM Racing. Myers now lives in Mooresville.