The sweet and sometimes humongous concoctions, often photographed and posted to social media by Eric Weddle, are a reward for a job well done, a way of celebrating a victory and the sacrifice it took to help achieve it.
Weddle, a 12-year NFL veteran, denies himself sugar during game weeks. The payoff comes after wins, when he creatively constructs and enjoys massive ice cream treats with his wife, Chanel, and their four children.
When the Rams signed the six-time Pro Bowl safety last March, Weddle’s contract included an incentive clause tied to wins that is titled the “Brooklyn, Gaige, Silver & Kamri’s Ice Cream Sundays Incentive.”
“My kids know when we get home after games it’s like ‘Ice cream! Ice cream! Ice cream!’” Weddle said. “They know what’s up.”
The Rams won 13 games last season en route to their second consecutive NFC West title and a run to the Super Bowl. After the season they released linebacker Mark Barron and did not re-sign defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and safety Lamarcus Joyner.
To upgrade the defense they signed the 34-year-old Weddle to a two-year contract that includes $5.2 million in guarantees. The Rams then added veteran linebacker Clay Matthews, another six-time Pro Bowl player.
Weddle has been a part of two defenses that ranked No.1 in the NFL in fewest yards per game — the 2010 Chargers and the 2018 Baltimore Ravens. He calls defensive signals, and actively directs teammates from all points on the field before and during the snap.
Weddle is a “coach on the field,” Rams coach Sean McVay said.
“Really smart guy,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said, “smarter than I am, I know.”
Weddle, who played at Rancho Cucamonga Alta Loma High and in college at Utah, was selected by the Chargers in the second round of the 2007 draft. That was the year Phillips left the Chargers as defensive coordinator to become coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
But during his nine seasons with the Chargers, Weddle mastered the concepts of the 3-4 defense that Phillips had installed.
“Everything he built there we carried over and added to and changed a little bit,” Weddle said, adding that when he began offseason workouts with the Rams a dozen years later: “It came back real quick. … It was like I’ve been running the defense the whole time.”
Rams players agree.
Weddle is an “assistant, assistant defensive coordinator,” outside linebacker Dante Fowler said. Middle linebacker Cory Littleton described him as a master of disguise. And a master of Phillips’ scheme, cornerback Marcus Peters said.
“He knows everything,” Peters said, “from the front to the back end.”
It took a few walk-throughs and practices for Rams players to acclimate to Weddle’s instructions and style.
“Guys were like, ‘What are we doing here?’” he said, laughing. “And I’m like, ‘It’s OK, man. Just trust me.’ … I do a lot of crazy stuff like disguising and running around.
“It takes an adjustment to play when you’re not used to it. That period was short-lived. Now they’re on it.”
Said safety John Johnson: “We’re just doing a lot more things that stress the quarterback mentally.”
Rams quarterback Jared Goff can relate. He said working against — and with — Weddle has contributed to his development.
Goff and Weddle play a “chess match” during practices. After a play or series, Goff might ask Weddle what he saw, how he might have known what was coming. Weddle does the same.
And they don’t limit the dialogue to the field.
“Walking in the hallway, whenever,” Goff said.
Weddle landed with the Rams after three seasons with the Ravens, all of which ended with his selection to the Pro Bowl. His release reportedly saved the Ravens $7.5 million in salary-cap space.
For the next 24 hours, Weddle said, his emotions ran the gamut.
“You still want to play, but it doesn’t matter if you still want to play and no one else wants you at this point in your career,” he said. “Who’s interested? Is there anyone?
“You have to prepare yourself … This may be it.”
The Rams were among several contending teams that showed interest. After meeting with McVay and the Rams staff, Weddle signed what he has described as his final NFL contract.
“I kind of asked him, ‘What are you still playing for?’” running back Todd Gurley said. “He gave me the answer: He still loves the game.”
During offseason workouts, Weddle stayed near the Rams’ Thousand Oaks training facility during the week and drove to his family’s home in San Diego County on weekends.
He’ll employ a similar arrangement during the season, seeing the family at Sunday home games and then traveling home together for days off.
Weddle is already anticipating the shouts when his family walks through the front door together after a Rams victory.
“I go all out,” he said. “When we win, let’s smash some ice cream.”