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Rams safety Eric Weddle, a onetime Escondido resident and a former San Diego Charger, kisses the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 56. Photo via Twitter/Eric Weddle
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North County’s Weddle gets last laugh on Chargers

Los Angeles Rams safety Eric Weddle’s compromised chest muscle tendon will be surgically repaired after it ruptured in Super Bowl 56.

His broken heart after the way he was treated by the San Diego Chargers? That’ll take time to heal and more is required.

Weddle, a longtime North County resident, became a world champion Sunday when the Rams disposed of the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, in thrilling fashion at SoFi Stadium.

After coming out of retirement some five weeks ago, Weddle played an instrumental role in the Rams’ second Super Bowl title in franchise history. He participated in all 61 defensive snaps and called the plays despite an injury that would have others tapping out.

Remember when the Chargers played taps on Weddle’s career? They pointed him toward the exit after the 2015 season, speculating he wasn’t worth retaining.

Maybe you forgot, but Weddle didn’t as he put Chargers general manager Tom Telesco in his crosshairs.

“Want to thank Tom Telesco for the (way) things ended there,” Weddle said. “And showing me the light and giving me the motivation and that fire. … I appreciate that.”

Weddle’s career was far from done as he went to the Baltimore Ravens for three years, where he was named a Pro Bowler each season. Then there was a year with the Rams before Weddle stepped away following the 2020 season.

He returned when the Rams gave him the first call after they suffered a series of injuries in their secondary. Weddle was familiar with the Rams’ scheme and the Rams were well-versed on Weddle’s potential contributions as a player and a leader.

Their phone conversation wasn’t very long and soon Weddle was backing out of his Poway driveway for the Rams’ facility north of L.A. But Weddle’s mind was always on that team that was once down south, and the way it treated him in his last season.

First Weddle, who was among the Chargers most popular players with teammates and fans, was fined $10,000 for watching his daughter perform in a dance routine during halftime. Then he was delegated to the injured reserve list against his wishes and denied the opportunity to travel with the team for its last game.

Weddle’s memory is as keen as his reflexes on the field, even at age 37, as he produced four tackles in the Super Bowl, including a critical one during the Bengals’ final drive. Maybe the Chargers should get an assist for giving Weddle the want-to to show them the errors of their ways.

“I always said Eric Weddle would get the last laugh and I’m a world champion now,” said Weddle, who resided for years in Escondido. “Funny thing how things come right back around. I’ve always tried to treat people with respect, love and kindness and you should be able to get that in return. When that does (happen), good things happen to good people.

“So thank you to the Ravens for giving me that second chance and obviously the Rams all the way down the organization for believing in me and taking this old man out of retirement.”

Weddle, the NFL’s most senior player — after Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady left — performed as if the years had been peeled away. Weddle’s challenge, though, was trying to wrap up ball carriers with minimum strength from the right side of his upper body.

But his mind, angles and the ability to be in the right place at the right time was spot-on. Weddle exits, again, after being named All-Pro twice, to the Pro Bowl six times and to the NFL’s all-decade squad of 2010.

Super, right? Weddle thinks so and maybe it was good he got his Chargers rant off his injured chest, too. Just realize his target was the Chargers, and not their onetime fans in these parts.

“I love San Diego,” Weddle stressed. “I literally felt the support like never before.”

He wasn’t the only one with area roots lending a hand. Safety Terrell Burgess (San Marcos High) played on all 16 special-teams reps.

But never before had a retired player been asked to jump in in such a crucial situation. Then again, not many people are Eric Weddle.

“How about Weddle?” Rams coach Sean McVay shouted to the heavens.

Weddle smiled, after completing an unlikely journey that can only be described as super.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] and follow him @jparis_sports.

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