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Team Player Eric Weddle

Defensive captain of the San Diego Chargers

By ron donoho | Photo by Robert Benson

Team Player Eric Weddle

Eric Weddle

Eric Weddle

Defensive captain Eric Weddle is the heart of the San Diego Chargers. The 28-year-old Pro Bowler is considered one of the best safeties in the league. The Encinitas resident sat down after practice to talk about the sporting life, being a devoted Mormon, and what family means to him.

Growing up in Rancho Cucamonga, what professional football team did you root for? I was born in 1985 and  grew up a Cowboys fan. I was a UCLA fan when Troy Aikman went there. He went on to play for Dallas, and they won their first Super Bowl in ’93, and two of the next three.

You played three sports in high school (basketball, baseball, football). How did you gravitate toward football? I was probably best at baseball—but I couldn’t play after I got hit in the face with a pitch. It cracked my cheekbone and pushed my eyeball back a quarter of an inch. If that hadn’t happened, I might be playing baseball right now.

You play a lot of different positions on defense and on special teams. Why not pick one? (Laughs) Any way to help the team, really. Whether it’s linebacker, safety, or slot corner, or on special teams, it’s all about winning. I get bored when I’m not playing.

As a veteran, what have you seen that new head coach Mike McCoy has brought to the team? He treats people with respect and he wants players to be good people on and off the field.

What has new general manager Tom Telesco brought to the organization? He wants to bring in guys that will fit in and don’t have egos.

How does Qualcomm Stadium compare to other stadiums you play in? I love our field—we have great grass. The stadium is obviously outdated and old. I hear our fans don’t really like it. Some players would like a nice locker room. But it’s not a high priority for me. If I had to go play on cement or dirt, I’d go out there and play.

But would you be in favor of a new downtown stadium? Of course. You always want a new stadium, new anything. But if it doesn’t happen, I’m not going to stop working as hard or be in a bad mood about it.

Talk about your pregame ritual of going to church. I take a cab to the nearest church, in regular clothes, and take the Sacrament. I stay for about 45 minutes. On the road, I call around and find a [Latter-Day Saints] church… Yes, my faith is very important to me. I used to be a Sunday School teacher for 13- and 14-year-olds. It’s fun to teach the Gospel, and to learn about it, too.

How is fatherhood treating you? It’s the best. I have three kids—Brooklyn, five and a half; Gaige, four; and Silver, two. I look forward to coming home every day and getting hugs and playing with them.

Are you and your wife, Chanel, planning on having any more kids? We’ll see. Maybe one more. Nothing like the Philip Rivers clan—he’s got seven.

You’re a pretty good golfer. In the off-season, where in San Diego do you like to play? I love Santaluz, The Bridges, The Crossings at Carlsbad… I’ll play anywhere, though. One of my buddies is Charley Hoffman, who plays on the PGA tour. When he’s in town, we play, and he puts me in my place.

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