Super Bowl

In Retirement, Super Bowl-Bound Eric Weddle Played Poway Pickup Basketball to Stay in Shape

"We were worried about if we were going to have enough for 5 on 5 pick-up basketball about a month ago, and I'm watching him go the Super Bowl," one of the pickup players said.

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It's a February evening on a hill near Poway, and the familiar sounds of pick-up basketball bounce from the court.

"Shot!"

"Switch."

"Who's got next?"

It sounds and looks like your average pickup basketball game, but it turns out that it's also a great way to get ready for the Super Bowl!

You see, this pickup game is being played on a basketball court outside the house of Eric Weddle the former Charger who came out of retirement to join the now-Super Bowl bound Los Angeles Rams.

"This is Eric Weddle's home court," said Pete Lange, one of the players.

"We're at Weddle's hoop court on the top of the mountain in Poway," says Brett Durham just before taking the court.

Morod Shah, a longtime friend of Weddle and a top-notch hoopster. said, "This is where the magic happens."

"It's a beautiful place to play," says 6-foot 6-inch big man Grant Sawyer.

During his coming-out-of-retirement press conference with the Rams in early January, Weddle talked about playing in these pickup games.

"I played five on five once or twice a week," Weddle said. "I love basketball."

So what kind of basketball player is Weddle?

"He was out here killing us," Sawyer said.

"There's a reason he's a paid professional athlete" Durham said. "There's a big difference between him out here and the rest of us."

In the span of five weeks, Weddle has gone from playing against his friends in this regular pickup game to being part of a team that's won three NFL playoff games and is headed in the Super Bowl.

"It's crazy!" Lange said. "He was one of the guys a few weeks ago, and now we're watching him on TV make plays."

Shah said that Weddle was more concerned about getting 10 guys to play basketball a few weeks ago than he was about playing defense against Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.

"We were worried about if we were going to have enough for 5 on 5 pick-up basketball about a month ago, and I'm watching him go the Super Bowl," Shah said. It's just surreal."

Weddle said playing basketball helped him stay in shape and stay NFL ready. Do his fellow hoopsters agree? Depends on who you ask.

"One thousand percent. One thousand percent out here NFL shape — that's why he's in the Super Bowl," boasts Darrell Johnson in between runs on Weddle's court.

Shah isn't so sure.

"I mean, shoot, NFL ready is a lot different than weekend warrior here," Shah said.

Durham said this pickup game could be the key to reviving all sorts of former players NFL careers.

"If you played in the league and want to return, come run at EW's house and you might end up back in the NFL and, if you're lucky, the Super Bowl," Durham said.

More than just some pickup game "ballers," these players are Weddle's good friends, and, to a man, they are pulling for him to win the Super Bowl. At the same time, though, they'll be waiting for Weddle when he finishes with this football foray.

"He can hide in the NFL for a little bit of time, but when he gets back out here, we'll be whooping him again," Lange said with a big smile.

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