Perhaps you've noticed this season that Ravens safety Eric Weddle has a new accessory with his uniform. After playing the game barehanded for years -- so much so that it had become part of his identity -- Weddle has been wearing gloves. The reason? The exact one you think.
"Just looking at last season, I had a couple plays where -- was it really because of gloves? No, I don't think that," Weddle said. "But just trying to do whatever you can to be your best and help your team. If it means making a ridiculous pick with gloves … to win a game then it's worth it.
"Just trying to find ways to get better and help your team and swallow your pride a little bit. I'm one of the few in the league that play like that [without gloves], especially in the secondary. It's kind of my thing."
Weddle did indeed make a ridiculous interception during the team's win against the Cleveland Browns Sept. 17. He actually has worn gloves before in his career but changed his mind because of results.
"After my fourth year, going into my fifth year, I had dropped like 15 picks," Weddle said. "I had 20 picks in college; coming into the NFL, it just hadn't translated. So after three games I took the gloves off, and I lead the league in picks. So I was like, 'Oh, that's the last time I'm ever going to wear gloves.' That lasted six-plus years and now I'm going back."
Does he notice a difference in trying to catch the ball with gloves on? Big time.
"Yeah, I can catch one-handed balls easily. Ridiculously," Weddle said. "Any time with gloves -- it's almost cheating, the gloves nowadays. And without gloves, I can't. I don't even dare try it without gloves because I can't. But I can catch the same. ... I've made a lot of plays during my career. It's just the gloves do help in certain situations. If it makes me get one or two picks, or one or two more plays, and it helps us win, then it's all worth it."
During the radio broadcast of the Sept. 17 game, former Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta suggested the team had given Weddle a hard time last season about the plays he didn't come up with because he wasn't wearing gloves. Weddle admitted he heard from a number of teammates.
"Everyone busts on everyone on this team," Weddle said. "That's why we're so close. But they had just never seen it -- especially for a skill guy. They're like, 'What are you doing? You're doing a disservice. The gloves can only help you.' I'm like, 'Man, that's all in your head. You can either catch it or you can't.' So I'm kind of going back on it, but I just look at it as just trying to help the team."
After hearing about it throughout the year, Weddle decided he might give it a try during training camp. It caught teammates by surprise.
"They were like, 'Eric, what are you doing? That's not you,'" Weddle said. "And I was like, 'Yeah, you're right. I got to go back.' Then I tried it in the second preseason game and I was like, 'Let's do this.'"
The safety said now that he's tried the gloves, they will be part of his game-day repertoire for the foreseeable future. And if it helps his team continue to come up with five turnovers per game, it will be easy to never second-guess the decision.
But it doesn't mean every fashion change you've seen from Weddle will stick. In fact, there's one from earlier this season he can say with certainty will not.
"It was the same thing with wearing no sleeves in the first game," Weddle said. "I hadn't [not] worn sleeves in seven-eight years. Sleeves are my thing. And I forgot them at home. So I had to not wear them. I was like, 'You got to be kidding me.' So I had to not wear them. But everything was right last week. I will always wear sleeves. That's my thing. Whether it's 120 degrees or zero degrees, Eric will have sleeves on."
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox