During his stay in England, Eagan participated in several boxing exhibitions with Jack Dempsey, a fellow Coloradan. But when he returned Stateside, he helped the new professional heavyweight champion, Gene Tunney, train for what would become his famous "long count" rematch with Dempsey in 1927.
After that Eagan settled into a promising legal career, and boxing faded into the background. But in 1932 he took up a different sort of bobbing and weaving.
Jay O'Brien, head of the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Committee, was a good friend of the Eagans'. "One night," Peggy Eagan recalled, "Eddie came back from dinner with Jay and said, 'Guess what. I'm on the United States bobsled team.' " A member of the four-man team had opted to compete in the two-man event, and unseasonably warm temperatures had prevented the committee from holding formal Olympic trials. With time running short, O'Brien turned to his old friend. "I was practicing law at the time and finding it a little cobwebby," Eagan explained. "I felt the change would do me good."
Still, there were some, like W.O. McGeehan of the New York Herald Tribune, who believed the sport was beneath a man like Eagan. "it is a shame." McGeehan wrote, "that Mr. Eagan, educated at Yale and Oxford and with a fine bringing up in every way, should turn out to be only a bobsledder."
Ah, but he forgot Frank Merriwell, who was so multitalented that he made Jim Thorpe look one-dimensional. Merriwell starred in baseball, football, hockey, tennis, track, crew, fencing, lacrosse, golf and bicycle racing. So for Eagan—who had excelled in collegiate tennis, fencing, swimming and wrestling as well as boxing—bobsledding was a natural.
A bobsled is dangerous even for experienced sledders, and Eagan had never been in one until he arrived at Lake Placid for the 1932 Games. No matter. Courage was a Merriwellian must. "Eddie was absolutely fearless," Peggy recalled. "He would try everything just for the thrill of it. After a few practice sessions they [the team] performed like they had been together for years."
The men in Eagan's sled were an eclectic bunch. The driver was 20-year-old Billy Fiske, described by Olympic historian Bud Greenspan as a "socialite daredevil" who had won the gold four years earlier when it had been contested, for the only time, as a five-man event. Eagan was in the second spot. Behind him was Clifford (Tippy) Gray, who had been in Fiske's sled in 1928. A 40-year-old songwriter, Gray would write some 3,000 tunes over the years. The brake-man was O'Brien, one year shy of 50.
A raging blizzard played havoc with the schedule, forcing several events, including the four-man race, to be delayed. After three days, the first two heats were held on the last day of competition, but the athletes protested the poor racing conditions. So, in what may have been an Olympic first, the final two heats took place the following day—after the closing ceremony.
Eagan's sled was fastest in each of the first three heats. The fourth run, however, included a heart-stopping moment when one of the sled's runners crept over the edge at a treacherous turn known as White Face. "Picture a steel comet with four riders hurtling through the air," Eagan later reflected. "We missed becoming that only because Billy Fiske was at the wheel." Fiske steadied the sled and cruised to victory with a combined time two seconds faster than that of the silver medal sled, also a U.S. foursome. It was one of a dozen gold medals the Americans earned in Lake Placid, die only time the U.S. has won die most gold at a Winter Olympics.
The foursome never raced together again. All but Eagan were dead within a decade. O'Brien succumbed to a heart attack. Fiske, the first American to join the British Royal Air Force, in 1939, also became the first to be shot down. Gray died in 1941, without ever having told his children he had won two Olympic gold medals.