A reigning four-time Associated Press All-Pro selection and No. 92 on the NFL's list of its Top 100 players, Weddle had an outstanding all-around season in 2013, topping 100 tackles to lead the team for the second year in a row, while eclipsing the century mark for the third time in seven seasons. Weddle tied for the team lead with two interceptions during the regular season and he was second on the squad with 10 passes defensed. He also made his mark on special teams, ranking second on the squad with 11 tackles, while also successfully executing two fake punts, including one in overtime of the Bolts' regular-season finale against Kansas City that helped catapult the team into the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
With Weddle serving as the quarterback of the defense, the unit played some of its best football down the stretch in 2013, collecting 16 takeaways in the final eight games of the year, playoffs included, more than double the team's total of the first 11 games. The unit also allowed just five passing touchdowns in the final five games as the Bolts went 4-1 in December en route to the postseason. It was a significant improvement over the 18 touchdown passes that the defense allowed in the first 11 games.
Recently, Weddle has received as much recognition for his play on the field as he has for his appearance off it. Last season, he started growing a beard that grew to epic proportions. Years earlier, his father, Steve, had grown a beard and it served as an inspiration to Weddle, who swore not to shave the beard until the Chargers went to the Super Bowl or were eliminated from the playoffs. And he still has the beard. So popular is the beard that it even has its own twitter handle (@weddlesbeard) and T-shirts.
Weddle is one of the NFL's top game-changers. He's started every game over the last four seasons, 64 straight heading into 2014. His 12 interceptions over the last three seasons (2011-13) are tied for third-most in the NFL, while three of his 18-career picks have been returned for touchdowns. And he has three career interceptions against Peyton Manning, two of which he's returned for touchdowns and a third that prevented a touchdown during a win over Manning's Colts in the divisional playoffs at the end of Weddle's rookie season in 2007. Weddle also has been a thorn in the side of the Kansas City Chiefs, recording four interceptions against them since 2011.
Weddle moved into the starting lineup in 2008 and finished the year second on the team in tackles with a career-high 135, just one behind the team leader. He also set a team record with an 86-yard fumble return for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons. His all-around game improved each year and in 2010, he received his first all-pro honors when he was selected to AP's All-Pro second team after the Chargers finished the season ranked first in the NFL in pass defense. Weddle helped turn around a pass defense that just two seasons earlier ranked second-to-last in the league. Within months, the Chargers rewarded Weddle with a new five-year contract and it kicked off the best season of his young career in 2011. He helped clinch two early-season back-to-back wins with late fourth-quarter interceptions, becoming just the third Chargers defender to do so in the previous 20 years. It was the beginning of a Pro Bowl season in which Weddle tied for the NFL lead with a career-high seven picks. And it wasn't just Pro Bowl accolades that Weddle earned, as a slew of All-Pro accolades followed, accompanied by his selection as the Chargers' Defensive Player of the Year. Weddle even intercepted two passes in the Pro Bowl, one of which resulted in a touchdown after a lateral, while also breaking up a game-high three passes in a 59-41 win by the AFC.
A Southern California native, playing for the Chargers has been a dream come true. Weddle grew up in Alta Loma, Calif., a little more than 100 miles north of San Diego. He and his wife, Chanel, his former high school sweetheart, married in La Jolla in July 2005. The couple has four children: Brooklyn Marie, Silver Jean, Gaige and Kamri Jo. On the day in 2007 when the Chargers traded with Chicago to move up 25 spots in the second round to draft Weddle, Chanel surprised him by telling him that she was pregnant with Gaige. Eric and Chanel wed before Eric's junior season at Utah. They lived near Utah State in Ogden where Chanel went to school and played soccer for the Aggies. Eric, meanwhile, commuted nearly an hour each way to Salt Lake City where the University of Utah is located for school and football.
Weddle was a special education major at Utah who helped tutor students with learning disabilities. As a professional, he has remained active in the community supporting a number of worthy causes, including breast cancer as his grandmother is a two-time survivor of the disease.
Weddle is a gym-rat and an avid golfer. He plays basketball and golf several times a week and is a single-digit handicap on the links. In January, just days after the Chargers were eliminated from the AFC Playoffs, Weddle tweeted out a picture after hitting his first-ever hole-in-one on the 210-yard fifth hole at the Ko'olau Golf Club in Honolulu. Weddle also enjoys bowling and movie nights with the family.
Weddle's incredible rise through the NFL was chronicled in a book entitled “No Excuses, No Regrets: The Eric Weddle Story.” It was written by Trent Toone and published by Shadow Mountain. The book, which tells Weddle's story of overcoming adversity and accomplishing impossible dreams, hit bookshelves in May 2013. Weddle's former coach at the University of Utah, Kyle Wittingham, wrote the foreword.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: Second-round pick (37), April 28, 2007...signed four-year contract, July 24, 2007...signed new five-year contract, July 30, 2011.
2014: Pro Bowl...team-high 10 tackles, including nine solos, and jarring hit to break up fourth quarter pass intended for Marquise Goodwin...first interception of season to help close out Sept. 28 win vs. Jacksonville...fourth quarter pick led to field goal and final points in 33-14 win...big hit to break up third-down pass intended for James Jones in first quarter Oct. 12 at Oakland...Chargers drove 13 plays and 85 yards on ensuing possession after three-and-out and scored touchdown for 14-7 lead...early in third quarter vs. Raiders, attempted pass on fake punt on 4th-and-35 play that fell incomplete...fourth quarter blitz and pressure on Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr led to intentional grounding penalty...after penalty, Chargers had season-long 29-yard punt return that kick-started game-winning touchdown drive for 31-28 win...started 100th career game Oct. 19 vs. Kansas City...led team with 11 tackles Oct. 23 at Denver...made potentially biggest play of career, forcing fumble at Chargers’ 45-yard line at end of second play of overtime Dec. 20 at San Francisco...Chargers had overcome 21-point deficit early in game and 14-point deficit in fourth quarter to send game to OT...Sean Lissemore recovered fumble and offense drove 40 yards in nine plays for gamewinning field goal...finished 49ers contest with nine tackles for fourthcareer and third-straight 100-tackle season.
2013: Pro Bowl...Associated Press Second-Team All-Pro and First- Team by Sports Illustrated...All-AFC by Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA)...All-AFC West by ESPN...Chargers David Griggs Memorial Award as Defensive Player of Year...Team Captain...two big third-down passes defensed in 30-21 win over Dallas Sept. 29...broke up second- quarter 3rd-and-6 pass to Jason Witten that led to missed 56-yard FG...in fourth quarter, broke up deep 3rd-and-8 pass to Witten...following punt, Antonio Gates caught 56-yard TD pass for 30-21 lead...then with 2:50 left in game, wrapped up Terrance Williams at the one-yard line and held him up while Crezdon Butler forced a fumble that Richard Marshall recovered in end zone for touchback to seal victory...played in 100th career game and racked up career-high 16 tackles Nov. 3 at Washington... Nov. 10 vs. Denver, successfully executed fake punt on 4th-and-1 on opening series of game...Nov. 24 at Kansas City, sealed 41-38 victory with forced fumble and fumble recovery on Chiefs’ last ditch play of the game...outstanding all-around game Dec. 1 vs. Cincinnati…first interception of season in second quarter…later in quarter, recorded special teams tackle inside 20 (16-yard line) after punt…in third quarter, one-yard tackle for loss led to punt on first drive of quarter…and in fourth quarter, returned BenJarvus Green-Ellis fumble 27 yards to help set up field goal...highlight-reel INT off Oakland’s Matt McGloin Dec. 22...lept in air to break up pass and then made diving catch to secure pick...led to touchdown for 10-7 lead two plays later in eventual 26-13 win...during Raiders’ game, increased season tackle total to 102 for second-straight and third-career 100-tackle season...made perhaps guttsiest call of career in Dec. 29 overtime win vs. Kansas City to put Chargers into playoffs... helped keep game-winning field goal drive in OT alive by successfully executing fake punt with two-yard run on 4th-and-2 from own 28 yard line.
2012: Chargers Most Valuable Player...first-team All-Pro by CBSSports.com and Pro Football Weekly & the Professional Football Writers of America...second-team Associated Press All-Pro...interception on second play of game Sept. 16 vs. Tennessee led to touchdown and 14-0 lead... Sept. 30 interception vs. Kansas City was fourth vs. Matt Cassel in team's last three games...sack and forced fumble against New Orleans' Drew Brees during Oct. 7 Sunday Night Football game was first sack since 2009...interception and 23-yard return for touchdown off Denver's Peyton Manning Nov. 18 at Sports Authority Field...ended streak of 231 straight passes at home without interception by Manning... Dec. 9 at Pittsburgh, executed fake punt with four-yard run for first down from team's own 28-yard line late in third quarter...six-yard, first-down run on 4th-and-1 fake punt in second quarter of Dec. 30 win vs. Oakland sustained touchdown drive that gave Chargers 17-7 lead.
2011: Pro Bowl starter...First-team All-Pro by Associated Press, Pro Football Weekly & the Professional Football Writers of America, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated...Chargers' David Griggs Memorial Award as Defensive Player of Year...USA Football All-Fundamentals Team pick...game-clinching interception with 55 seconds left in fourth-quarter of 20-17 win over Kansas City Sept. 25...week later, intercepted Miami's Chad Henne with 2:53 left in final quarter to preserve 26-16 victory...goal-line interception off New York Jets' Mark Sanchez Oct. 23...career-high two picks off Chiefs' Cassel in ESPN MNF game Oct. 31 at Arrowhead Stadium... first pick led to field goal and second late in fourth quarter helped send game to OT...Dec. 5 interception during Monday Night Football game in Jacksonville led to touchdown and 24-14 lead...career-best seventh interception of season lead to touchdown for 13-0 lead in Dec. 11 win over Buffalo... game-high two interceptions with 90 yards in returns, including 63-yarder in Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium...added game-high three passes defensed and tied for second on AFC with five stops... pick in third quarter off Carolina's Cam Newton set up field goal for 31-28 AFC lead...returned second pick off Newton in fourth quarter 27 yards and lateraled to Kansas City's Derrick Johnson who took it final 60 yards for touchdown and 59-35 AFC lead.
2010: Second-team AP All-Pro... touchdown saving pass defensed in end zone during 29-23 win at Houston Nov. 7...Game Ball after 41-yard interception return touchdown vs. Manning and two deep passes defensed vs. Reggie Wayne in 36-14 win Nov. 28 at Indianapolis...career-high-tying 12 tackles Dec. 26 at Cincinnati.
2009: Game Ball after first-career interception return touchdown (31 yards) Sept. 27 vs. Miami for 23-6 lead... Game Ball following Dec. 25 win at Tennessee to clinch No. 2 seed in AFC playoffs...had late third quarter interception off Vince Young and helped force punt on next series with two-yard tackle for loss vs. NFL's leading rusher, Chris Johnson.
2008: Team-record 86-yard fumble return touchdown Nov. 30 vs. Atlanta…career-high 12 tackles Dec. 21 win at Tampa Bay and again week later in AFC West clinching win over Denver Dec. 28…team-high three passes defensed and shared fourth-quarter tackle for loss in Jan. 5 Wild Card win vs. Indianapolis…sack among 11 tackles in Jan. 11 Divisional Playoffs at Pittsburgh.
2007: Series of big 3rd-down plays in first half of first-career game vs. Chicago…third-down tackle for loss, two quarterback pressures and sack on consecutive series...first-career interception to seal 35-10 win over Houston Oct. 28…one-handed interception prevented touchdown in third quarter of Divisional Playoff win at Indianapolis.
COLLEGE: Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of Year and first-team all-conference in 2005 and '06…first-team All-America as senior and second-team as junior… Defensive MVP of 2005 Emerald Bowl…second-team all-conference, honor roll, Dean's List and elected to Utah's Football Leadership Committee as soph in '04…Freshman All America, All-MWC honorable mention and Academic All-MWC pick in '03…school-record nine forced fumbles...conference-record and second in school annals with 18 career interceptions…also second with three interception return touchdowns…tied MWC record, eighth in nation and second in school history with seven interceptions as senior... only player in school and MWC history to score touchdowns passing, rushing, on interception return and fumble return in season (2006) and career …Walter Camp National Player of Week after '06 game vs. San Diego State with three interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, and rush score… also in '06, on field for 90 plays vs. Air Force, scoring two rushing touchdowns and holding for game-winning field goal in 17-14 victory…late interception in '06 Armed Forces Bowl vs. Tulsa sealed win in final collegiate game… played at Utah from 2003-06…special education major.
PERSONAL: Born in Fontana, Calif.…two-time Mt. Baldy League Offensive and Defensive MVP...three-time all-league, two-time All-CIF and Mt. Baldy Rookie of Year at Alta Loma (Calif.) High…lettered in basketball and baseball.