Behind the Jersey Number: Eric Weems

One of the many great sights on game days is watching countless Falcons fans fill the Georgia Dome and away venues wearing the jersey of their favorite player. We thought it was worth asking each Falcons player if there is a specific purpose for selecting the jersey number that he is currently wearing, such as Falcons wide receiver Eric Weems.

While some players pick a jersey number for a specific reason, there are others who are given a jersey and work to make it significant, like No. 14 Eric Weems.

"It's the jersey I got when I first got in the league," Weems said. "When I first got here, they gave me No. 14 and it's what stuck with me. I made the team and I stuck with what got me here. It's been good to me since my first year."

Sticking with a jersey number is no easy task in the uncertain world of the NFL.

Originally signed by Atlanta as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2007, Weems was later elevated from the team's practice squad to the 53-man roster for the final regular season game. Waived by the Falcons at the end of the 2008 training camp on August 30th, he was signed to the Atlanta practice squad the following day. Still wearing No. 14, Weems was signed to the Falcons active roster on November 19, 2008 and shined on special teams through the 2011 season, including Pro Bowl honors in 2010.

Scenery changed for Weems during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, playing for the Chicago Bears, yet still wearing No. 14. Following his two-year term with the Bears, the Falcons signed their former Pro Bowler in the offseason. Upon signing with the Falcons the second time, Weems faced a problem. Jersey No. 14 was being worn by then-Falcons wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn, leaving Weems with jersey No. 8.

"It didn't feel the same," Weems said. "It felt ugly. I felt like I couldn't play like I wanted to. I asked Boldewijn if I could get it back and he said, 'Yeah, we'll work something out,' but unfortunately, we didn't have to end up working anything out, because they ended up releasing him."

Monday night against Green Bay, Weems again showcased the energy and enthusiasm that he brings to each and every game in jersey No. 14. Trailing the Packers 31-7 in the third quarter, his 5-yard touchdown reception ignited a 30-point second-half surge that fell just short of victory.

Win or lose, whenever Weems looks into the stands and sees fans wearing No. 14 jerseys with his name on it, he's inspired and hopes they believe in the message that epitomizes his career.

"Determination," Weems said. "Just keep working. No matter what life brings you, never give up on your goal. Always keep pushing."

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