The Beard Is Back: Former Charger Eric Weddle Comes out of Retirement to Help Rams in Playoff Win

After two years of retirement, former Charger and current San Diego resident Eric Weddle returned to the NFL in Monday's playoff win for the Los Angeles Rams

NFL: DEC 29 Cardinals at Rams
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Eric Weddle called it "an amazing, crazy week."

Weddle, the 37-year-old former San Diego Charger fan favorite who still lives in San Diego, came out of retirement last week to help an injury-depleted Los Angeles Rams team.

After signing his NFL contract Wednesday, Weddle made his return Monday night in the Rams' playoff win over Arizona. It was Weddle's first NFL game action in more than two years.

"What a game," said an excited, smiling Weddle as he met the media after his first NFL game since Dec. 29, 2019. "What a team win. You just can't replicate being with your guys."

After two years of retirement, Weddle made his return in the third play of the Rams' first defensive sequence. Playing his usual safety position but wearing No. 20, Weddle was in the game for 19 plays.

"Feel great," said Weddle when asked how his body felt afterward. "It was a clean game. I was just running around covering guys, not a lot of games in my career have been like that."

No, they haven't. When Weddle was with the Chargers, he was constantly involved in head-pounding plays and was always around the ball. Monday night, Weddle stayed "pretty clean" as he said, and concentrated on making the defensive calls and being in coverage. The large margin of victory, 23 points, allowed the Rams to be cautious with the amount of game action Weddle saw, but there's no doubt he was a big part of the dominating defensive effort, holding the high-powered Arizona offense to just 11 points.

"Man, we sure played our lights out as a defense, offense and special teams," Weddle said. "And played together. That's how you win in the playoffs, picking each other up, making big plays."

Speaking of big plays, on the Rams interception for a touchdown, Weddle was a factor in the defensive play of the game, and afterward, he even acted it out at the podium, showing the media how he jumped the route on Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, leading to the interception and touchdown return by David Long.

After the game, Rams head coach Sean McVay talked about Weddle's contribution.

"It's unbelievable what Eric Weddle was able to do: come in and contribute," McVay said. "He's one of those guys that just elevates you. We talk about igniters all the time -- you make everyone around you better. That's what Weddle is and he's only going to build on this for next week."

Next up, the Rams play the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For Weddle, he’s older, wiser and more grateful than ever.

"I try to reiterate to these guys: This just doesn't happen as much as you think it does, and to take advantage just a little bit more, sacrifice a little bit more for this chance," Weddle said. "As you know a 37-year-old coming out of retirement for this chance, because I never had a chance at the Super Bowl."

Super Bowl or not, it’s a pretty super story, and Weddle was not the only Ram safety from San Diego making a difference. San Marcos High School grad Terrell Burgess made his first playoff start Monday night against Arizona, with five tackles, the third-most on the team.

Burgess and Weddle, two San Diego football stars keeping our local NFL hopes alive.

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