Behind the Facemask: Eric Weems

Frank Kleha: Players, coaches and fans were all universal in their enthusiasm for your return to the Falcons. Did you feel that on your return?

Eric Weems: Yes I did, especially in the receiver room. I know all the guys and it was just love as soon as I stepped back into the room. It was like things never changed. All the love I received makes me feel good, makes me feel at home and welcome.

FK: I'm sure Special Teams coach Keith Armstrong was equally glad you were back.

EW: (Smiling) Oh, yeah. He was excited for me to be back. He said he needed some juice on special teams and he looked for me to be that guy to set the tempo and get guys riled up and ready to go.

FK: What do you think you bring to this team overall?

EW: Intensity and my play-to-play all-out effort and my never-say-die attitude. Every play I play like it's going to be my last. I just love playing football, period.

FK: We researched it and you set the franchise record for most special teams tackles in a single-game with six stops last week at Carolina. It was an unbelievable individual performance on teams. Did you know you established a new mark?

EW:That's nice (laughing). I didn't know that. That's my first time hearing that. It makes me feel good.

FK: You've had so much success over the years on special teams as both a returner (team record 102-yard KOR) and coverage player. What is it about guys who perform the best on special teams?

EW:You have to have the right attitude on special teams because it's just one play. You don't have a first, second or third down. Let's say if you mess up on one play on either offense or defense, you've got second and third down to make up for it. On special teams, you have no makeup. So you have to give it everything you got for that one play and that's the only play you get. You have to make the most of that one snap.

FK: With fellow special teams captain Antone Smith out for the year, what do you think you can do to fill that void?  

EW: I try to show more so than get up and talk because some people can talk it, but not show it. I like to have my play talk for me. If they see me out there making plays, you don't have to say anything. You let your coach talk about you, I don't have to say anything, and it speaks for itself.

FK: Does coming out of a small school like Bethune-Cookman add fuel to your game knowing you had to prove you belonged in this league?

EW: That's an added chip being that you're coming into this league against all the big-name college players, whether it's Florida, Florida State, or the Alabamas or Auburns. Coming from a small school it's like, 'Hey, I'm here with all these big-name college kids, but I can compete with them.' You have to have the attitude that you can compete with the best. And you want to compete against the best.

FK: You ran a different offense at Bethune-Cookman for most of your career that didn't necessarily showcase your talents.

EW: We ran the Wing-T so I was the wingback. We ran the option and I was the pitch-man, and that was a headache itself. My last year, we went to the spread offense and they converted me to wide receiver. So I played (in the) slot my last year and got a little bit of taste of receiver. I also only returned punts, that was it though, no kickoffs. 

FK: What was your first car?

EW: My first car was a green 1996 Chevy Monte Carlo. I got it in college. You know I had to put the music in it. It held up until I passed it on to my brother and he totaled it. I had some miles on it, but had some engine and transmission work done on it. I took care of it for a while. I had it when I first got here.

FK: What's your favorite sports memory?

EW: It was in college when we played Norfolk State my sophomore year.  I caught a pass over the middle and like four or five guys jumped on me. Somehow I came out of that and ran about 70 yards for a touchdown. That was my most memorable moment.

FK: Who is your favorite current athlete in another sport?

EW: Kevin Garnett.

FK: Why?

EW: Have you seen him play? Do you see how he plays with passion?  Do you see how much passion he has for the game? I think he is my idol. I love Kevin Garnett. I love how he plays and what he brings to the game.

FK: What do you like to do to get away from it all when you leave the facility?

EW: I love basketball. But right now I can't play it. I play a lot of pick-up games in the offseason. I go to LA Fitness and just shoot around. I'm very nice at basketball.

FK:So you are 'nice' in basketball, huh? So tell me about your exploits in hoops.

EW: I played at Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach, Fla. I averaged 23 points a game, nine rebounds, about four steals and five assists a game my senior year. I wanted to play in college and I started to play at Bethune, but my (football) coach made me stop.

The Falcons had perfect football weather Thursday at the Branch for practice. The team continues to get ready for their first game at the Georgia Dome since October 12, which will be on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

FK: Sounds like you got some hops. Did you ever dunk in a game (at 5-foot-9)?

EW: Yeah, I caught one off the rim one time and put it back in.

FK: Other than Kevin Garnett, who are some are your favorite basketball players?

EW: Dennis Rodman. I love his hustle. He's not trying to get in the box score with points; he just does the dirty work.

FK: Sounds very familiar to someone named Eric Weems.

EW: Exactly!

FK: I know you are a big music guy. You try to share your affinity for music with guys in the locker room, don't you?

EW: It gets me juiced, it gets my blood pumpin', and it gets my adrenaline flowing. I just try to get guys motivated. We get a chance to take our anger out on somebody else (on Sundays) instead of us practicing against each other all throughout the week.

FK: What do you listen to on game days?

EW: I listen to a lot of Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Jeezy, and Tupac.

FK: What are some of your favorite movies?

EW: I like "Rush Hour," "Friday," "Money Talks" and "Law Abiding Citizen." I'm a big Chris Tucker fan; he's my favorite actor.

FK: What about your top sports movie?

EW: I would say "Remember the Titans." I just watched it last night. I like the comaraderie and how they came together after having been segregated at first. My favorite quote from that movie is, "Attitude reflects leadership."

FK: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

EW: I love playing ping-pong. I've got a table at home and everything that comes with it. Sometimes when I'm bored I will just put it up (so you can play by yourself) and hit it. It's a big time stress release for me. Also, with football, it works on your hand-eye coordination.

FK: Anything else?

EW: I'm a neat freak. I have to be neat, I just have to. My house and my car are all spotless. Even my locker is clean, especially compared to Roddy and Julio. My mom is like that and I take after her.

FK: What's the coolest experience you've had since coming into the NFL?

EW: The coolest thing for me was when I first started playing I saw a sign in the stands once at the Georgia Dome that said, 'Weems, we love you.' That shook me up a little bit. I was like, 'Wow… A sign that says Weems on it.' It really touched me.

FK: Other than a pro athlete, what did you want to be growing up?

EW: I always wanted to be a mechanic. I love fixing things. I think I was good at fixing things around the house when they were broken.

FK: Is there anything you wish would come back in fashion?

EW: I would have to say Girbaud jeans. Those were the jeans that had the strap around the knee. They had all types of colors. I wore those growing up and in college.

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