Ravens Not Surprised By Eric Weddle's Super Bowl Comeback

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Los Angeles Rams defensive back Eric Weddle (20) against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game in Inglewood, Calif., Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

When Eric Weddle announced his retirement from the NFL following the 2019 season, he included a checklist of career accomplishments – of which there were many.

One thing not on that list was a Super Bowl appearance, something Weddle so desperately wanted. But it was time, and it seemed Weddle would have to shrug and join the club of great players who never reached the biggest game.

That is until the Rams came calling last month.

Now Weddle will play in Super Bowl LVI, looking to end his career with a championship he devoted himself to chasing. And the Ravens will be rooting for him.

After an injury to starting safety Jordan Fuller, Weddle came out of retirement to sign with the Rams on Jan. 12, just five days before the Rams' first playoff game.

Weddle had played 13 years in the NFL, including three in Baltimore from 2016-2018 in which he made the Pro Bowl every season. He's 37 years old. But with a chance at a title, he's giving it another go with everything he's got left.

Weddle played less than 20 snaps in his first game back, then jumped to 85 percent in the Rams' thrilling playoff win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the NFC Championship, Weddle played every defensive snap and led the team with nine tackles.

It's a remarkable feat, but one that hasn't shocked those who worked alongside him in Baltimore. The Ravens and their fans will be pulling for Weddle to win it all.

"I'm not surprised. Eric is a pro's pro," General Manager Eric DeCosta said. "[He's] really smart, does everything the right way, and I couldn't be happier for him and proud of him. … I'm very excited. I love Eric. I can probably put him on one hand, as far as players that I've come to admire and appreciate."

Speaking from the Super Bowl this week, Weddle said he got a text message from Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti saying he was pumped Weddle was back in the league and he was rooting for him.

"That just doesn't happen all places. Baltimore is a very special place, from the owner all the way down to Eric and everyone in the organization. I have a special place in my heart for them," Weddle said.

"Baltimore was a great three-year run for me. It brought the love back to my life of football. … I just enjoyed every second that I was out there."

Before he came out of retirement, Weddle was back in San Diego playing pickup basketball at his house. And, no surprise, he was destroying people.

He was also coaching his son’s 12-and-under Pop Warner football team, the Rancho Bernardo Broncos, in retirement. Before they played in the championship game, he reflected on his own career.

"I just reminded them that I played 20 something years straight of tackle football, organized football at every level and never won a championship," he said Monday. "If we did it, which we did, you will always have that memory, no matter how long you play, that this group of guys won a championship. It's very special when you think about it because it doesn't happen often."

Now he's looking to win his own. According to The Athletic's Dan Pompei, Weddle will be starting Sunday's big game (the first time he's done that since returning) and will wear the "green dot" communication helmet, relaying the play calls to his teammates. Against a talented Bengals passing attack, Weddle will be critical to the Rams' outcome.

"It's been a slow progression – a lot, a lot, a lot of work," Weddle said this week from the Super Bowl. "I don't think people understand, nobody would understand, but I've never worked so hard in my life or last four weeks to get my mind, body ready for this, because I've been behind a ball for two years."

Weddle had played 13 years in the NFL, including three in Baltimore from 2016-2018 in which he made the Pro Bowl every season. He's 37 years old. But with a chance at a title, he's giving it another go with everything he's got left.

Weddle's teammates have marveled at what he's been able to accomplish since returning to the game.

"Still he commands a room," cornerback Jalen Ramsey said during his Super Bowl LVI video conference Monday. "His communication in the backend is like truly what you would want out of an elite safety. It's like he hasn't skipped a beat when it comes to communication and his mental focus and all of that."

"Eric Weddle is one of those rare infectious energy guys who just, when he walks in a building, you hear his laugh, you hear his voice, you hear his energy," offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth added. "He's here, from 5 a.m. 'til midnight at night. I mean, this guy lives in the facility, and he might as well just put a bed in here, I guess."

Sunday's game will truly be the last for Weddle – for real this time. Last week, he said he'll go back into retirement, win or lose.

"It's amazing to be able to understand that and know that I don't have to save myself for next season, I don't have to save myself for the offseason, I didn't have to save myself for the Super Bowl last week knowing it wasn't guaranteed, so I was throwing it in there, giving it everything I got," Weddle said, per Nicholas Cothrel of SI.com. "Because listen, I don't have anything left after this other than going back and doing what I was doing before. After this Super Bowl, I move on and go back to my old life and there will be no comebacks. There will not be playing – another team, another game – no, no, no, no."

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