As new Ravens safety Eric Weddle walked into his introductory press conference, he broke the room's silence with three loud claps of his hands. It was as if he was trying to fire up the reporters in attendance.
Players are often happy to have a new contract with an esteemed franchise such as the Ravens. But no player in recent memory has come close to the exuberance Weddle showed Wednesday.
Weddle confirmed that he turned down more money elsewhere to ink a four-year deal with the Ravens.
So what sold him? What has him so pumped?
It's the Ravens' culture.
"I can't tell you guys how excited I am to be a part of something special and to be a part of a culture, to be a part of winning, to be a part of defense, toughness, everything that I want as a football team and an organization," Weddle said.
"So, as you guys can tell, I can't wait to get started, can't wait to meet my teammates, get to work and hopefully bring a championship here."
Weddle doesn't have as much first-hand experience with the Ravens and AFC North as fellow incoming Ravens wide receiver and former Steeler Mike Wallace. But Weddle has been in some dogfights with Baltimore over the years.
In 2009, there was Ray Lewis' fourth-down game-ending tackle for loss in San Diego. In 2012, there was the 'Hey Diddle Diddle Ray Rice up the Middle' fourth-and-29 play, which Weddle saw a picture of on the wall of the Ravens practice facility as he walked into the press conference. In 2014, San Diego beat Baltimore, 34-33. Last season, the Ravens eeked out a 29-26 home victory over the Bolts.
The Ravens sure could have used Weddle's services on their side in a couple of those games, and Weddle remembered them from the other side as well.
"I've always envied their success; I've always envied the way they play, the way they go about business," Weddle said.
"I'm a simple guy. I live and breathe football. … And the things I felt Baltimore would give me is a team that gives everything for each other, a team that wants to win, wants to go back, has the goal to win a Super Bowl every year. The culture, the business-like atmosphere, the working, the toughness, the defense – it's just football. You think of Baltimore, you think of football."
But it wasn't until the Ravens started recruiting Weddle that the veteran safety got an in-depth knowledge of how things work in Baltimore.
The Ravens put on the full-court press. Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta talked to Weddle on the phone for an hour and a half. Head Coach John Harbaugh also put on his recruiting hat.
Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. (one of Weddle's best friends in the league), outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil and even former Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson, who played with Weddle for three years in San Diego, all spoke with Weddle.
Weddle reportedly had three other teams – the Steelers, Raiders and Cowboys – interested in signing him. But when he went to bed Sunday, he said he kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking about Baltimore.
"Thinking this is my fit, this is where I want to be, and they want me," he said.
Weddle had a difficult final season in San Diego, ending with him being placed on injured reserve before the final regular-season game against his wishes. He even ran sprints in practice, showing he was healthy. Baltimore went above and beyond to make him feel valued again.
"In this stage in my career, the excitement, the blood that's flowing through me, [it] is hard to imagine how much I want to win for this organization, a team that wants me and knows what I can bring, not only on the field but off," Weddle said.
"To my teammates, to the city, I'm all in in everything I do, and my family, as well. So, we can't wait to get here, get to work and win a bunch of games."