Eric Weddle is recognized as one of the National Football League’s elite free safeties.
A five-time Associated Press All-Pro, three-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time Chargers Defensive Player of the Year, Weddle led the squad with 110 tackles in 2014 while helping the Bolts rank ninth overall in total defense and fourth against the pass.
Weddle receives as much recognition for his appearance off the field as he does on it. Since 2013, he’s grown a beard of epic proportions. Years earlier, his father, Steve, had grown a beard and it served as an inspiration to Weddle, who has not decided if or when he’ll shave the beard. So popular is his beard that it even has its own twitter handle (@weddlesbeard) and T-shirts.
Weddle is one of the NFL’s top game-changers. Last December, his forced fumble in overtime set up the Chargers’ game-winning field goal to cap off a 21-point come-from-behind win in San Francisco. He has started every game over the last five seasons (80 consecutive) heading into 2015 and his 13 interceptions over the last four seasons (2011-14) are tied for fourth-most in the NFL. Three of Weddle’s 18 career picks have been returned for touchdowns. He has three career interceptions against Peyton Manning, two that 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.
A second-round pick in 2007, 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 had a team-record 86-yard fumble return for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons. Weddle’s 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, Silver, Gaige and Kamri. 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 Brooklyn. 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 studied special education and mild and moderate disabilities at Utah, and he helped tutor students with learning disabilities. As an NFL player, he supports several worthy causes, including breast cancer and domestic violence. Weddle’s grandmother is a two-time breast cancer survivor. And with a disdain for domestic abuse, Weddle joined forces with the company London Bella to create a "Game Day" jewelry collection with proceeds supporting victims of domestic violence.
Weddle is a gym-rat and an avid golfer. He plays basketball and golf several times a week as a single-digit handicap. In January 2014, Weddle hit 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 his family.
Weddle’s incredible rise through the NFL has been chronicled in the book "No Excuses, No Regrets: The Eric Weddle Story." It was written by Trent Toone. The book tells Weddle’s story of overcoming adversity and accomplishing impossible dreams. His former coach at the University of Utah, Kyle Wittingham, wrote the foreword.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: Second-round pick (37), April 28, 2007...signed July 24...signed five-year contract, July 30, 2011.
2014: Pro Bowl...Associated Press, Pro Football Writers of America and Sporting News first-team All-Pro...All-AFC by Professional Football Writers of America...Chargers Defensive Player of Year...Team Captain...team-high 10 tackles, including nine solos, and jarring hit to break up fourth quarter pass intended for Marquise Goodwin Sept. 21 at Buffalo...interception helped close out Sept. 28 win vs. Jacksonville...big hit to break up third-down pass intended for James Jones in first quarter Oct. 12 at Oakland...on ensuing possession, Chargers scored touchdown for 14-7 lead...fourth quarter blitz and pressure on Raiders’ QB 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...100th career start Oct. 19 vs. Kansas City...led team with 11 tackles Oct. 23 at Denver...forced fumble on second play of overtime Dec. 20 at San Francisco to set up game-winning field goal...Chargers had overcome 21-point deficit early in game and 14-point deficit in fourth quarter to send game to OT...finished 49ers contest with nine tackles for fourth-career 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...David Griggs Memorial Award as Chargers Defensive Player of Year...Team Captain...ranked No. 92 on NFL Network’s list of Top 100 Players...two big third-down passes defensed in 30-21 win over Dallas Sept. 29...first led to missed 56-yard field goal...in fourth quarter, broke up deep 3rd-and-8 pass to Jason 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 one-yard line and held him up while Crezdon Butler forced fumble that Richard Marshall recovered in end zone for touchback to seal victory...season-high 16 stops in 100th career game Nov. 3 at Washington...Nov. 10 vs. Denver, 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, including interception, special teams tackle inside 20 (16-yard line) after punt, third down tackle for loss to force punt, before returning fumble 27 yards to set up field goal in fourth quarter...highlight-reel pick off Oakland’s Matt McGloin Dec. 22 as he lept in air to break up pass and then made diving catch to secure pick...it set up touchdown for 10-7 lead in 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.
2012: Chargers MVP...first-team All-Pro by CBSSports.com and Pro Football Weekly & PFWA...second-team AP 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 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 & PFWA, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated...Chargers 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 led 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.
2009: Game ball after first-career interception return touchdown (31 yards) Sept. 27 vs. Miami...game ball following Dec. 25 win at Tennessee to clinch No. 2 seed in AFC playoffs...late third quarter interception off Vince Young helped force punt and on next series, recorded two-yard tackle for loss vs. NFL’s leading rusher, Chris Johnson.
2008: Team-record 86-yard fumble return touchdown Nov. 30 vs. Atlanta…season-high 12 tackles Dec. 21 win at Tampa Bay and again week later in AFC West clinching win over Denver…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.