After 13 seasons in the NFL and stints with three teams, veteran safety Eric Weddle announced his retirement Feb. 6.
After the 2019 season ended, Weddle, 35, underwent knee surgery, giving him time to think about how he could recover and return for another season.
“Last year was pretty tough. I battled a knee injury since Week 1,” Weddle said on Glenn Clark Radio Feb. 12. “That took a toll.”
Ultimately, the six-time Pro Bowler decided that season would be his last.
“I went out at the right time on my terms and gave it my all and I can be proud of that,” Weddle said.
The safety started all 16 games for the Los Angeles Rams in the first year of his two-year, $10.5 million deal with the team. He posted 108 tackles and four pass defenses. Now retired, Weddle has more time to spend with his wife, Chanel, and four kids.
“Now it’s [full-time] being at home, being with the kids, being at all their events,” he said, adding that he continues to keep in shape by going to the gym or the golf course while the kids are in school.
Weddle was drafted 37th overall in the 2007 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers, for whom he spent nine seasons. He was a Pro Bowl pick in 2011, 2013 and 2014. But in 2015, the team fined him for watching his daughter in a dance routine during halftime of the Chargers’ Week 15 matchup against the Miami Dolphins, then placed him on injured reserve a day later.
“I was in a rough patch my last year in San Diego,” Weddle said.
Weddle then signed a four-year, $26 million contract with the Ravens in 2016. He credited then-assistant general manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh for helping bring him aboard.
“Eric and Harbs and those guys, they took a chance on me as a 30-year-old safety,” Weddle said.
While most of his life and career had played out on the West Coast, Baltimore became a “second home” where the safety spent three seasons.
“I had a lot of interest, but they believed in me and wanted me and I can never forget the admiration and the love and the respect I have for those guys for believing in me,” Weddle said.
The love went beyond the team and extended to the entire city of Baltimore, living there year-round and braving through the cold winters with his family.
“I appreciated a football town, it reminded me of college,” the former Utah star said, adding that while he didn’t win a championship with the Ravens, he thinks the Super Bowl is “on the horizon.”
The safety was able to spend time during his last couple seasons in Baltimore with some of the franchise’s young talent, including safety Chuck Clark and quarterback Lamar Jackson, both of whom emerged as leaders this past season.
Clark started 12 games in 2019, recording one interception, two forced fumbles and 73 tackles, showing great improvement in his third year in the league.
“As an older guy you notice guys that just get it,” Weddle said. “Chuck came in and all he did was put his head down and he worked and he listened and he carved out a role early on.”
“When you see a guy who gets it, you want to go out of your way to help him as best as possible,” Weddle added.
After leading the Ravens to a 6-1 regular-season finish and AFC North title in 2018, Jackson won NFL MVP for his efforts in 2019.
“You never saw these designed plays, the system that they ran, you didn’t see it so it was hard to expect him to be this good and this amazing,” Weddle said
Weddle kept in contact with the quarterback this past season to let him know how great he was doing, even as a competitor with Rams. The two faced off in Week 12, and Jackson put on a show. He completed 15 of 20 passes for 169 yards and five touchdowns and posted 95 rushing yards in a 45-6 Ravens win in Los Angeles.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” Weddle said.
When he was with the Ravens, Weddle became known to cut out sugar until after a win, when he would then create an ice cream masterpiece to enjoy with his family.
“I mean, when the Ravens win next year I’m going to have to celebrate with some ice cream,” Weddle said.
With his time in the league coming to an end, Weddle has more opportunities to keep eating his favorite treat.
“I don’t have to be an athletic specimen anymore,” Weddle said. “I’ve been having ice cream more often.”
After a life full of football, Weddle is ready to take a step back, looking to focus on being a father and helping his kids with school and sports.
“Football is what I’ve done for 25 years straight, 26 years, so it’s a part of me but it’s not who I am,” he said.
When asked about a possible coaching or management opportunity in Baltimore, Weddle responded, “We’ll see what happens. I mean, I’m living it up. I’m happy and I’m sure you could definitely see E-Dub there in Baltimore somewhere down the line.”
For more from Weddle, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox