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NFL

I’m Not Sure How My Manhood Got Dragged Into This

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Eric Weddle #20 of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates after Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Most people confronted by this vision and the accompanying tweet would be completely justified in asking the central question, “Was this a thing people cared about?” And the answer would largely be no. Rams safety Eric Weddle consumed few thoughts even during the NFL postseason because frankly we all have too many other things to do, and almost nobody compared their testosterone levels to his because nobody really wanted to know what their or his testosterone levels were to start.

But let’s for the sake of argument say that agent David Canter had access to a deep but largely unseen resentment of Weddle for coming out of retirement to see if he could win a Super Bowl ring. Did this seething yet incredibly stealthy army of angry noncombatants really impact anything Weddle? Let me answer that for you. No. He chased a Super Bowl ring because (a) he wanted to win a Super Bowl ring and (b) the Los Angeles Rams saw value in allowing him to do so. A perfectly reasonable business arrangement this, a lot like Tom Brady going to Tampa Bay two years ago, just to name a god at random.

That’s the logical and sensible view, and Canter chasing the unreasonable one on behalf of his client kind of makes Weddle look unintentionally smaller than he is. But that’s not the annoying part. Telling us this line of thought was a thing worthy of our attention massively overrates our capacity to think of Eric Weddle. He beat the odds by being a 37-year-old who still was viewed as a professional football player, and he performed creditably in victory, which is even better. That’s pretty damned sufficient. Explaining that he did this with a pectoral muscle that is every day of its 37 years is, well, too obvious to mention.

Canter has a story here if Weddle actually stormed the Rams’ offices, beat up general manager Les Snead, threatened to do the same to Sean McVay and Raheem Morris and stared down Aaron Donald in his first huddle to make sure everyone knew who the new alpha dog was—now that would be a tweet. It’d also be a story if the Rams literally begged Weddle in tears to come back and save them from the shame of losing to San Francisco for a seventh consecutive time. Him hearing about a job opening and getting the gig isn’t. It’s just, well, something that happened. Good for Eric Weddle. Well done him.

But wait, there’s more, or in this case less. After doubling down by showing us a picture of Weddle’s bruised and unattached pectoral muscle that frankly we didn’t need (not even team colors, by the way), he tripled down with this rhetorical flourish: “You should hope to be a millimeter the man he is.”

Really? A millimeter? The tiniest notch on a metric ruler? That’s how far away Eric Weddle is on the manhood scale compared to regular folks? Why isn’t he playing himself in the next Marvel movie? Why isn’t he punching Vladimir Putin’s face through the back of his head with a single thought? Why is he wasting his time with something as small as football when he can give the earth’s population the swift and corrective kick in the ass it so clearly needs? Hell, he should just give birth to a child if pain is what defines exceptional willpower or strength of character.

Frankly, this isn’t even about Eric Weddle at all. He made a choice and an offer, and so did the Rams, it worked out swell for both parties, and despite Canter’s protestations nobody seemed to object much to the arrangement. It’s really about David Canter loudly and publicly chastising a very small group of people (20? 30? 74?) for complaining about his client’s leisure time activities. Maybe it’s also about hustling up a gig for next season, but Twitter is not exactly the NFL’s job board. If Weddle needs this level of validation in victory (and I’m comfortable betting that he doesn’t), he’s actually slightly less the man we thought he is—maybe several centimeters worth—and if he doesn’t care either way, as I suspect is actually the fact, he has a decent reason to ask Canter why his breast is now a matter for public debate. Better to have let him enjoy his piece of the victory parade without the vision of his abs and grape jelly-colored arm, because part of the myth of masculinity is not being so ostentatious about it.

When Weddle tells his story of perseverance to The Players’ Tribune, I suspect he’ll do it with his shirt on. And we will either read it without much preconceived notion or emotion, or not read it at all. Eric Weddle did a series of things that made him and his co-workers happy, and where he fits on the man scale compared to the rest of the global population really doesn’t enter into it. But thanks, David. We’ll never think of Super Bowl 56 again without immediately imagining your client’s right nipple.