No Excuses, No Regrets (Hardcover)

The Eric Weddle Story

by Trent Toone

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Product Description

Live each day like it's your last. Play with heart. Dream big. Never give up.

For Eric Weddle, such mottos apply not only to how he plays football, but how he lives his life.

From his childhood days of playing in Little League baseball and Pop Warner football games to playing under the bright lights in NFL stadiums across the country. Eric has lived by a code of honor and integrity. He has always looked forward to the next challenge, eager to test himself against it, and prove himself the victor.

“To get better today, you must demand more than you did yesterday. Winners pay the price to reach their goals.” Eric was willing to pay that price. Recruited to play at the University of Utah, Eric worked hard to make his dream of playing in the NFL a reality and was ultimately drafted by the San Diego Chargers.

Weddle's story is about overcoming stereotypes and adversity and accomplishing impossible dreams. It's about an athlete who surprised his family and friends by joining a church they knew little about and about how his faith in Jesus Christ has continued to bless his life. It's a story about epic wins and devastating losses, confidence and character, taking advantage of opportunities, and respecting the game of football. It's a story of a man who values his family above all else. It's about living each day with no excuses and no regrets.

“Eric's story not only shows that he is an all-around athlete and has emerged as one of the top young safeties in the game, but it accurately illustrates that you don't have to be the biggest, the strongest, or the fastest to defy the odds and achieve your goals. Everyone should read No Excuses, No Regrets.” —Adam Schefter, NFL Insider for ESPN

“Eric Weddle has been a pillar of the NFL community, exemplary on the fireld and off. His story is one of dedication and perseverance, and he rose to become one of the dominant safeties in the game, silencing detractors and becoming one of the cornerstones of the Chargers organization. Football fans everywhere will enjoy his tale.” — Jason La Canfora, NFL Insider for CBS

“If you are impressed as I am by Eric Weddle the player and leader, you will be even more so by the view of Eric Weddle the person and father that you gain from No Excuses, No Regrets.” — Alex Marvez, Senior NFL Writer, Foxsports.com

“It is nice to read the stories of top draft picks that were supposed to be good. It is better to read about guys like Eric Weddle who, through hard work and passion grew to dominate his position in the league.” — Darren Rovell, ESPN Sports Business Reporter

Interview with Eric Weddle:

What is your football philosophy?
Good question. I think mine would have to be to get the most out of every day. In the NFL, you are not guaranteed tomorrow, only the moment. So what will you do with it? Attitude will always be the same and in the back of my mind, I always ask myself, ‘Do you want to be good or do you want to be great?’ My actions and attitude will easily express that answer. Live and play like it’s your last game so you don’t have what ifs or regrets.”

What do you want people to take away from the book?
“That anything you personally want in life, you can have. A lot of people have told me what I can’t do in this life and that burned inside me every day. But I also surrounded myself with people who believed in me, supported and pushed me. Basically, what I’m saying is stay true to yourself and what you are and what you’re all about. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. You define and decide your life and legacy, nobody else.”

What do you do to stay positive in life, on and off the field?
“I am the luckiest/most blessed man in the world. I am playing the game I so dearly love and can support my family by doing so, how could I not be happy and positive every day? I’m never satisfied with being average. I can’t stand losing. It is not what I am about and never will be. So waking up at 5 a.m. every morning for work and getting home at 7 p.m., it makes it all worth it to see the smiles on my kids’ faces when I get a hug and kiss from them when I step through the door. This is an opportunity of a lifetime and I never forget that. It’s always in my head. Finally, when I may be feeling down, or tired, or mad, I take a second and ask myself if I would rather be doing anything else in the world right now than playing in the NFL? The answer is a quick ‘No’ and my attitude changes immediately for the better.”

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Product Details

  • Size:  6" x 9"
  • Pages:  320
  • Year Published:  2013

About the Author

Trent Toone is a journalist for the Deseret News, where he writes for a variety of feature sections. He graduated from the University of Utah in 2003. He has worked for several newspapers and received several awards over his fifteen-year journalism career. Trent and his wife, Lisa, are the parents of three children and reside in Syracuse, Utah.

Chapter 1

The Pregame Show

The Pregame Show

Steve Weddle and his buddies were scrubbing down a fishing boat off the coast of southern California, when he made one of the biggest decisions of his young life.

It was early in the summer of 1976, and for the past few months the adventurous twenty-year-old had been living the carefree life of a fishing boat deckhand. The work was not for everyone. The vessel ventured out early in the morning or late at night and stayed as long as the fish were biting, which usually meant all day. A night’s sleep usually lasted around four to five hours. The deckhand made next to no money, usually collecting tips in the five-dollar range from passenger fishermen who felt generous. Sometimes the weather was rough. On top of all that, a deckhand typically worked for twenty or thirty days in a row then enjoyed one day off before going aboard again for another month.

Steve, young and energetic, enjoyed life as a deckhand. Yes, it was an aquatic marathon, but the work was not physically exhausting. Working side-by-side with a few of his high school buddies, Steve spent the whole day catching and filleting yellowfin tuna, dorado, and various whoppers. He relished the smell of the sea and the ocean breeze in his face—not to mention the scenic sunsets. He loved the adventure of it all.

There was only one problem: He missed Debbie Robles, his high school sweetheart.

They met at a friend’s party when he was sixteen and she was fifteen, and there was an instant connection. The following week, the two exchanged valentines and went out again. When he kissed her for the first time, Debbie melted. “He was so happy and outgoing. He was the most handsome boy in the world with his blue eyes and rugged good looks. I was a silly girl, but he was so romantic,” Debbie sighed.

They dated throughout their time at Temple City High in the San Gabriel Valley. He was a star on the football and track-and-field teams. She was involved in a myriad of extracurricular activities, including student government, a capella choir, and carrying the banner for the marching band. She was voted as the class prom queen. When they weren’t at school activities, Steve was like a member of the Robles family. Debbie’s father, Ed Robles, liked Steve because he was an athlete, and the two had similar interests. It wasn’t uncommon for Steve to spend the night sleeping on the Robles’ living room floor, or to accompany the Robles on a family excursion.

Debbie’s parents supported their family with little more than a high school education. For most of their adult lives, Ed worked for UPS, and Debbie’s mother, Betty, was a secretary at Temple City High. Debbie became the first in her family to attend college when she enrolled at Long Beach State that fall. Steve registered for classes at Pasadena Community College, and they continued to date in their spare time.

A few years went by as they studied at college and their love for one another deepened. They talked about marriage, and Steve proposed. The engagement didn’t last long, however. One night as they discussed wedding plans, Debbie noticed a lack of excitement in Steve.

“You really don’t want to get married right now, do you?” she asked bluntly.

“Not really,” came Steve’s honest reply.

A serious conversation ensued and sharp words were exchanged. With tears flowing, Debbie sealed the breakup with the words, “Don’t you call me, don’t talk to me. I never want to see your face again.”

“He wasn’t ready,” she said. “And like any girl would, I cried my eyes out.”

Debbie continued working toward a degree at Long Beach State, while Steve lost interest in school. He opted to move to San Diego and began working seriously long hours on a charter fishing boat. For the next year there was zero contact between them. Then one day Steve awoke to the realization that the person he was in love with was back at home—and likely dating other guys by now.

On the boat, as he and his shipmates cleaned and prepared to dock at the fisherman’s landing, the lovesick young man determined to make a phone call. The life of a deckhand on a fishing boat was enjoyable, but it was time to get real. The woman he loved was more than a hundred miles away at Long Beach State, and as far as he knew she wasn’t waiting around for him. If things went well on the phone and she would have him, this fishing voyage would be his last.

When the boat docked at the fisherman’s landing and his daily duties were completed, Steve fished in his pocket for some loose change (there wasn’t much) and located a phone booth. He took a deep breath, inserted his coins, and dialed Debbie’s number. After a few rings, a familiar voice answered, and he prayed his next sentence would prevent her from hanging up.

“Can I just talk to you for five minutes?” he pleaded.

Silence. When she didn’t hang up, he took that as a good sign and pushed on, apologizing for his mistakes and asking for forgiveness.

Silence.

He was prepared to find a real job, and, if she would still have him, he was ready to talk about marriage. On the other end of the line, Debbie melted once again.

“Okay, come on up,” she told him. Steve sighed with relief. He had finally pulled in the biggest catch of his life—the woman of his dreams. A second marriage proposal quickly followed.

Steve and Debbie were married July 24, 1976. She found a job as an elementary school teacher in the El Monte School District, and Steve accepted employment as a truck driver. Now all they needed was a home. In 1977, the newlyweds heard about houses for sale in a new community called Alta Loma. Steve’s parents were already in the area, and Debbie’s sister also had a home nearby. The idea of moving there had a lot of appeal. What they didn’t have was $3,000 for a down payment. “We had just gotten married and didn’t have any money,” Debbie explained.

But the bank was willing to work with the Weddles. Using a thousand dollars and the title to Steve’s van, a deal was struck, and the couple had a new house. The modest, one-level home with a garage, a green lawn, and a basketball court driveway was located at the end of the street in a nice neighborhood. The home was comfortable and perfect for their needs. Years later, a flagpole in the backyard would hoist the flags of Los Angeles Lakers purple and gold, University of Utah crimson, and San Diego Chargers blue. The only hard part about their new home was breaking the news to Debbie’s parents that they were moving almost an hour away.

The Weddles were happy. It was the beginning of a new life for Steve and Debbie. Within a few years they discussed the idea of starting a family. Shortly thereafter Debbie learned she was pregnant, and they had a baby girl. Kathleen arrived without incident on September 19, 1981, and even though she was a girl, Steve considered naming her Eric. While he loved his daughter, he had also always wanted a son, and he wanted to name him Eric, a name he picked out for his future son when he was a teenager. “It was a strong name,” Steve said. “I loved it.”

So when Debbie announced that she was pregnant with their second child in the summer of 1984, Steve was determined to name the baby Eric, regardless of its gender. “Whatever came out was going to be an Eric,” he said, laughing. The young father would eventually be granted his wish of a son, but he and Debbie would have to pass through a few trials of stress and heartache first.

A Miraculous Birth

Debbie Weddle was in the second trimester of her pregnancy with Eric, early in the fall of 1984, when she awoke to a mother’s worst nightmare.

Sometime after midnight, the young mother felt moisture on her sheets and bolted up in bed. A feeling of panic began to rise within her heart as she realized she was sitting in amniotic fluid. Debbie tossed the bed covers aside and carefully walked to the bathroom to sit on the toilet, where more fluid discharged.

Something felt terribly wrong. Rubbing her weary eyes, she flipped on the light and examined herself, trying to figure out what had happened. As she peered into the toilet, she blinked and stared in disbelief. Pregnancy tissue was floating in the white porcelain bowl. “Steve,” she said, “we need to get to the hospital.”

In moments the couple was in the midst of a hasty thirty-minute drive to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fontana, California. Steve wonders now why he didn’t just dial 911. Both parents feared they may have lost their unborn child.

Upon arriving at the emergency room, they were met by Debbie’s mother and examined by a doctor. The news was not good.

“They told me I was going to have a miscarriage,” Debbie said, recalling the traumatic experience, “or I could go into labor. The baby’s heartbeat was perfect. There was nothing physically wrong with me. They told me to just sit there and wait for the miscarriage to happen.”

One possible explanation for the expelled tissue, the doctor told her, was that she had been carrying twins and one had miscarried. But that theory was discarded because a fetus was not found in the tissues. If she didn’t go into labor soon, however, a miscarriage would likely happen because the amniotic fluid had flushed out.

A feeling of despair gripped the huddled family. According to the doctors, losing the baby seemed like a foregone conclusion. But not knowing what would happen was the worst feeling of all.

So they waited. But the longer Debbie waited, the more irritated she became. She was frustrated and wanted answers. She remained in the room for several hours before she was allowed to go home and rest, but later returned to the hospital.

A long, scary week slowly passed, with Debbie under close observation in a hospital bed, but, curiously, the miscarriage did not occur. Medical personnel monitored the baby and its heartbeat. Much to the doctor’s amazement, mother and baby remained in good health, as if nothing unusual had ever happened. Debbie was sent home and ordered to be on bed rest for the next month. Steve was at his wife’s side as often as possible to offer strength and support. Although a small chance of keeping the baby full-term still existed, the doctor’s opinion that Debbie would lose the baby didn’t budge. “They told us the chances of keeping the baby were slim-to-none. They told us to be prepared for a miscarriage at any time. It was minute-to-minute,” Debbie remembered.

While heartbroken by this discouraging development, Debbie found comfort in the kind words of a stranger. While marching defiantly around her room one day, she and her mother were not surprised to see a nurse open the door. What did surprise them, however, was what the woman said. Like an old friend, the nurse advised the distraught women to ignore the pessimistic doctors, because she had seen a friend experience the same symptoms and carry the baby full-term. Those hushed words gave Debbie hope that she and her child would get through this challenging time of her life.

“She said that only God knows what will happen and to have faith,” Debbie said. “At that moment my mom and I both cried. We told Steve and, needless to say, I stopped my marching around the room, and I lay down in bed.”

Miraculously, Debbie’s uterus healed and resealed itself. Fluid mysteriously returned to the womb. Doctors could not explain it. Almost four months later, on January 4, 1985, Debbie delivered a seven-pound, eight-ounce baby boy by cesarean section. Despite what she had already been through, Debbie had originally requested a natural delivery but changed her mind on the advice of her mother.

The delivery was uneventful and a healthy baby boy was born. The little guy had a severe case of jaundice, which required that he lie under a bright light for four days, but Steve finally had a son he could name Eric. The newborn was given the full name of Eric Steven Weddle. Little did they know that surviving the pregnancy to reach Earth was the first of many obstacles he would overcome in his life. Eric proved the doctors wrong then, and years later he would prove many football experts wrong. The love and support shown by his family was also a prelude of things to come.

Looking back, Steve and Debbie have no doubt that their son’s survival and birth was a miracle.

“He wasn’t supposed to be here. No one knows how everything sealed back up. No one knows how it filled back up with fluid,” Debbie said. “In that process you are praying to God every minute of every day, saying, ‘I will do anything.’ I am not one who asks for favors like that, but I prayed all the time: ‘I will do whatever you ask.’ So when he was born, we were just so excited. You look at him now and say, ‘Here is a kid who wasn’t supposed to be here.’”

A Sure Foundation

Alta Loma, California, where Eric Weddle grew up, was one of three unincorporated areas that became part of the city of Rancho Cucamonga in 1977, the same year his parents bought their home. Set against the south face of the San Gabriel mountain range, Alta Loma, which in Spanish means “high hill,” or “high hillside,” is one of the more affluent areas in San Bernardino County. Today, most of the community is residential, with tree-lined neighborhoods, plenty of parks, and a comfortable climate. Located forty miles east of Los Angeles and 120 miles north of San Diego, this community of more than one hundred thousand provided an ideal setting for Eric to grow up in during the late 1980s and 1990s.

Steve and Debbie believed in hard work, kindness toward others, and always doing the right thing. They were members of the Lutheran faith and believed in traditional Christian values. These standards were passed down to Kathleen and Eric. While Debbie continued teaching elementary school, Steve eventually formed his own construction business. He wanted his son to do well in school so he wouldn’t have to break his back to make a living. He and Debbie expected Kathleen and Eric to perform well in school and each had a list of daily household chores: cleaning the bathroom, loading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, pulling weeds, mowing the grass, and cleaning up after the family dog.

Eric was a good son and brother—very active and always on the go—except when it came time to do those chores. Then he would turn into a little escape artist and quietly disappear. He also had a Tom Sawyer talent for getting his friends to do his work. One time Debbie found Eric loaning his Nintendo to a neighbor boy. She eventually learned Eric had bribed the boy to come over and clean up after the dog in exchange for some time on the Nintendo. “He was a little businessman,” she said.

When she was old enough, Kathleen was often left in charge of keeping an eye on Eric while their parents were away. Like a typical brother, he messed with her dolls and teased her in front of her friends, but he also looked out for her. One day when the two were home alone, Kathleen called her mother to say they had heard strange noises in the house. “Mom, Eric got out the shotgun to protect me—we are all right.” As calmly as she could, Debbie instructed her daughter to have Eric carefully put the shotgun back where he found it. Eric obeyed. But it wasn’t the last time he pulled out a gun to save his sister.

Growing up, Eric described his parents as “strict, but fair.” Looking back, he understands they were trying to teach him right from wrong. When it came to punishing little household crimes, Debbie was the enforcer. On those rare occasions when Eric was in big trouble, Debbie pointed to Steve to take charge. Eric’s father did what had to be done, but it pained him to physically discipline his son. After the punishment was passed, father and son embraced and tears were shed. “He made me promise to never do it again, then we would cry together,” Eric said.

As a young teenager, Eric only remembers challenging his father once, which was all it took. One day, father and son were in the garage. A small disagreement arose, and Eric wouldn’t let it go. He can’t even remember now how the argument began. Angry words were exchanged, and Eric shoved his father. Steve’s father, Norman Weddle, had been a golden-glove boxer who had sparred with Rocky Marciano when he was serving in the army. Norman taught Steve the fundamentals of boxing. In his moment of machismo, Eric wasn’t thinking about his father’s boxing skills. Steve, however, looked his son in the eye and smacked him in the face, knocking him back against a door. Eric wasn’t hurt physically, but “humble pie” had been served. “He put me in my place. That was the last time I did that,” Eric recalled.

The worst form of parental punishment, Eric said, wasn’t physical. If he got into trouble at school or slacked off academically, Steve didn’t have to say a word. Eric’s father had a certain penetrating look of disappointment that was ten times worse than getting the belt or being popped in the face. It became Eric’s mission and objective never to disappoint his parents, especially his father.

Being kind and charitable toward others was another lesson Eric learned at a young age. When Eric was in grade school, the Weddles became acquainted with an African-American family that lived a few houses away. It became evident that the father of the family was involved with serious issues, including gang activity, drugs, and alcohol. When situations escalated, the two little boys who lived there often escaped to find refuge in the Weddle home. “Dad is chasing Mom with a gun again,” was, sadly, a common phrase. Steve or Debbie would call the police, and flashing lights were often seen in the family’s driveway. From these experiences Eric learned to appreciate his parents and their willingness to assist others. He gained gratitude for the blessings in his life and learned what it meant to have compassion for someone in a tough situation.

The Weddles were a close-knit clan. Family unity was cultivated with home-cooked meals and wholesome recreation. Eric’s fondest memories are of weeklong vacations to Baja, California, and Ensenada and Tijuana, Mexico, where the family camped on the beach, drove ATVs, and fished until they were full. Friends and family loaded into boats and reeled in everything from tuna to sea bass. The day’s catch became the evening feast. When possible, Steve took Eric golfing. To this day, Bajamar, about a three-hour drive south of Alta Loma, is Eric’s favorite course.

Scott Strohman, a lifelong friend of Eric, said Steve wanted his son to do well in everything he did, but more importantly he wanted him to become a good man. Eric credits his parents with helping him become the person he is today. When he was a child, they taught him the value of hard work, the importance of family, and how to help others, vital lessons he continues to apply now with his own family.

“The thing I love about my dad is he always put our family first. His priorities were never messed up. It was always about us,” Eric said. “One of the biggest lessons I learned from my father is that nothing gets in the way of being a dad first. There was never a time when he had something more important. When he went golfing or fishing with his buddies, he always took me along. His redeeming qualities were his unselfishness and love for his family. I know a lot of dads who weren’t that way.”

Steve and Debbie raised their children in the Lutheran faith, but two things provided a convenient excuse to miss church: their pastor moved away, and Eric started playing Pop Warner football.

As Eric began to play sports, his parents labored to teach him two more essential principles that have fueled his desire to achieve success: First, don’t let others tell you what you can and can’t do; and second, no matter how good you think you are, there is always someone out there who is better.

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A winner in every way!

by  Brad  -   reviewed on  May 26, 2013

I just finished reading Trent Toone’s book about Eric Weddle. Awesome! I am not much of a football fan and I am not usually drawn to sports books, but this one totally sucked me in. Eric's story, his life, his conversion and his commitment to the Gospel touched me. I love the way he keeps "proving people wrong." Toone’s writing went below the surface. I have read other biographies that never go deeper than telling what happened. This one also gave me the whys and the hows. There was not one place where Toone lost me. I stayed with him for the whole ride. I loved the chapter titles and headings. How do you not want to read "Fear the 'Washing Machine'" and "The Punk Freshman" and "A Spiritual Edge"? I loved headings like "The Girl with Long, Curly Hair" and "A Coup for the U" and "The Cherry on Top." I came to admire Eric Weddle, but I also loved learning about his wife, Chanel. I can see the positive influence she is in his life, but Toone also shared enough of her own life, success, and passions that I felt like I knew her. I am glad their positive examples and messages are out there for the world to see. Read this book! I promise that if you find no excuses, you will have no regrets!

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WOW!

by  Shauna  -   reviewed on  May 24, 2013

I am not what you would call a "sports fan." And I will be honest...some of the football terms in this book went over my head. But with that said... I LOVED this book! I LOVED the story of Eric and the trials he overcame and the determination he has...a man who gives it his all! Every day I would say to my husband, who is a sports fan, did you know this about Eric? I am SO impressed by Eric! Let me tell you what Eric did! I even found myself thinking...that's how I do things...give it my all...(Oh...to be a great as him...maybe someday... :) There is so much to learn from this man...so much to understand...so much to admire...so much to help you strive to be a better person. And the author tells it so well...don't miss out on reading this book!

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A great "guy" book!

by  G  -   reviewed on  May 18, 2013

I'm not a fan of the University of Utah (I’m a Weber State guy!) or of the San Diego Chargers (Go Broncos!) So, I didn't get this book because of my interest in Eric Weddle, the NFL, or the Utes. I was given "No Excuses, No Regrets" as a gift because I read a lot of biographies. It's my thing. For me, one of the things a good biography must have (other than being a well told story) are descriptions of true personal character. I look for character-defining moments to discover how a person acts when nobody is looking. This book offers many examples of Eric Weddle's true character. "No Excuses, No Regrets" starts by telling the story of a typical athlete who excelled in high school sports. After a baseball accident, he focused his time on football. Although he was blessed with above average skill, because of his lack of size and quickness he didn't stand out for the college recruiting experts. He was overlooked by the Pac-10 schools, and were it not for the dedication and effort made by his high school coach, he would have ended up at a Division II or III school. Why would a high school coach go to great lengths to promote this kid? Because Eric was very different. He was not just a talented athlete, but he possessed the "intangibles" not often seen, even among elite athletes. Eric compensated for his lack of physical prowess with an uncanny determination to prepare mentally. Yes, he did get himself prepared physically, but he was different in how he learned to study his opponents. He spent extra time studying film, just to know his opponents tendencies, strengths, habits, and preferences. Because of that study and preparation, he developed an ability to make plays on the field. He developed a knack for being at the right place at the right time. His study and preparation was the differentiator that resulted in his outstanding play. As a convert to the church, he has been true to his faith, learning line upon line, precept upon precept. He realized the importance of attending Sacrament meeting, even though he was traveling with the team. He developed a testimony of tithing, even though the first time he wrote the check, it was a significant amount of money that gave him pause. His act of faith was rewarded, and he has never regretted it, and is grateful for blessings of paying tithing. At each step of his professional and spiritual development, Eric is “all in” and never pursues any task with trepidation. These lessons are important to learn, and are easily applicable to my life. This is not your typical biography about a kid who made it good despite the obstacles. This is an intriguing look at a young man who is humble, yet quietly confident. He is capable of assessing his own his own shortcomings (whether on the field or off) and making appropriate changes to improve. His devotion to his faith motivates much of what he does and how he acts. The Eric Weddle Story is a good read. I really liked it. It’s not preachy or sugar-coated, but offers some wonderful insights into being LDS and thriving in professional sports. I found this book pleasantly accessible and entertaining. Even BYU fans will enjoy reading about this Ute who is one of the truly good guys in pro sports. Despite a few minor issues with editing, “No Excuses, No Regrets” is well written, and has my overall strong recommendation.

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