This topic has been covered to death. I know. It’s been on every fan blog (including ours), every twitter account, every Chargers-themed Instagram. But, I won’t apologize for the redundancy. Because as I watched the divisional round games this weekend — as I looked at teams like the Steelers and the Chiefs, who I’ve spent the majority of my life despising more than I probably should given that they haven’t done anything to me personally, I couldn’t help but think, “God, Weddle would look great on this defense,” only to follow with another thought: “Wait, is Weddle really leaving?”
In a word: yes. In two words: HELL YES. He’s leaving in a glorious blaze of fire and neither he (nor the Chargers) have made any bones about it. By now, this shouldn’t be news to you. It’s been widely reported for months now, and I’m probably the only Chargers fan that hasn’t taken to writing about it.
We all deserve a chance to say goodbye. To vent about how our favorite players made us feel during their time in lightning bolts. So, this is my farewell. And if you get queasy at the notion of sappy, melodramatic sports articles, check out some of the content from our other fine writers below…
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Dec 20, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers free safety Eric Weddle (32) reacts to fans after the Chargers beat the Miami Dolphins 30-14 at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
For my money, no singular moment better describes Eric Weddle than his victory lap following the Chargers’ final home game of the 2015 season — a game still widely speculated to be the last they’ll ever play in the city they’ve called home for upwards of fifty years. Weddle’s departure from the team had already been widely reported and accepted as a hearbreaking side dish to an already heartbreaking season. The team, by all accounts had done Weddle wrong — from the trade rumors that swirled mid-season, to the fines handed down late, to his exclusion from the roster on what was to be his last game as a Charger — and it seemed as if they were doing their best to make a villain out of one of the most beloved (and enigmatic) players in recent history.
But, that didn’t take. Where Eric Weddle could have engaged the Chargers’ behavior – could have been standoffish to fans, soured his own name in the eyes of the public – he did just the opposite. He embraced them. He remained on the field for upwards of an hour after the game had ended, entertaining autograph requests, signing pictures, and ultimately lying down at mid-field, grass running through his hands as he savored the fresh air of Qualcomm for what he knew would be his last time. At a time when the city of San Diego is more at odds with the ownership of the team than ever before, Eric Weddle firmly stood beside the fans — boldly stating that though he was miffed at the actions of the franchise, he remained anything but loving and appreciative towards his teammates and the Chargers faithful who had cheered him on over his nine seasons in powder blue.
In embracing the fans the way he did, Weddle handed down about as blatant a “[expletive redacted] you” as he possibly could have — something that, especially with Los Angeles calling, endeared him to the fanbase even more. But, hey: that’s Eric Weddle for you.
He’s relentlessly marched to the beat of his own drum, boasting a brand of hard-nosed football and unabashedly honest commentary seemingly outlawed upon in this age of hyper-sensitivity. He’s defined consistency: never taken a down off, and perhaps most importantly, nurtured the most underrated (and social media savvy) beard in professional sports.
Go on. Give it a follow. @WeddlesBeard
So, Eric. This is my goodbye. Thank you for always being you. Thank you for never letting the game (nay, “the shield”) consume you. And, most of all, thank you for giving us (the fans) your heart – on and off the football field. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for you – and look forward to the day that we meet again, watching your number rise up into the rafters. Until then, know that I’ll be rooting for you, wherever you are… unless, of course, you’re playing The Chargers. But, I like to think you wouldn’t have it any other way.