In 2015, after the San Diego Chargers had beaten the Miami Dolphins 30-14, one player laid at the 50-yard line reflecting. It had been a terrible season for the Chargers whose record was 3-10 and there were rumors of the franchise moving to Los Angeles. Regardless fans filled Qualcomm Stadium and made it feel like a playoff game.
Eric Weddle repaid them by staying around for almost two hours signing autographs, taking selfies, and showing love to the city where his NFL career began.
That career led him to Baltimore and Los Angeles, and on Thursday it came to an end. Weddle announced his retirement on Twitter.
Weddle thanked all his former teammates, coaches and fans for all the love they showed him. He also listed his career stats and accomplishments.
Before being drafted by the Chargers in 2007, Weddle was seen as an undersized safety, who had some potential according to draft profiles of the Utah alumni. Four safeties were taken ahead of him then the Chargers jumped up 25 spots to select the safety in the second round.
Weddle worked hard to study the defensive playbook when he entered the league. In his rookie year, the Chargers went to the divisional round of the playoffs and faced the Indianapolis Colts. In the 3rd quarter, the Colts got into the red zone when Peyton Manning threw a pass that went through running back Kenton Keith's hands and into the left hand of Weddle who was being blocked by center Jeff Saturday.
Weddle was a game-changer.
He was a defensive quarterback on the field, who knew how to put his defensive players in the best position to succeed. He played the run, he played the pass and even played special teams. He could do it all on the field.
After announcing his retirement, a lot of players have celebrated the career of Weddle. Eastlake High School alum and now Baltimore Ravens safety Tony Jefferson, who played alongside Weddle for two seasons, tweeted that his former teammate, “would go down as a NFL great. You helped change the game on and off the field, enjoy the family.”
Jefferson is right no matter with the Chargers, Ravens or Rams; Weddle helped changed the NFL. He helped coach up numerous players. Quarterback Philip Rivers said in 2018 that safety Adrian Phillips making the pro-bowl was a testament to how hard he had worked. Rivers pointed out that when Phillips was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014, that he was always following Weddle to learn how the veteran safety prepared. Phillips also congratulated Weddle via social media.
Weddle played for the Chargers for nine seasons, then three seasons with the Ravens and finished off one season with the LA Rams. When it is all said and done Weddle will be an interesting Hall of Fame candidate his numbers are right there with recently named Denver Broncos safety Steve Atwater, but the only difference is Atwater won two Super Bowl rings.
One of the biggest draws to fans, besides the veteran safety signing autographs for hours, was when he decided to grow out his beard. When he first created his twitter handle @Weddlesbeard he tweeted out as if the beard was tweeting. Everyone loved “the beard.” Weddle is a huge L.A. Lakers fan so it was only fitting he would sign off with his own version of the late Kobe Bryant’s “mamba out” by using “#BeardOut.”
During Christmas time, Weddle would die it gray and white like Santa Clause.
Another reason why fans love Weddle is that after every victory he would have a big bowl of ice cream. All kinds of different flavors and toppings. He would share a picture on social media and fans would comment.
Weddle said he is on to “bigger and better things.” We don’t know what they are, but with his personality, no one would be shocked if Weddle was pick up by ESPN, Fox, NFL Network or CBS to be an analyst.
For now, Weddle will enjoy spending time with his wife, Chanel, and their four children Silver, Gaige, Kamri, and Brooklyn.