When Eric Weddle was in town last week to be inducted into the Utah Athletics Hall of Fame, he was asked his opinion about the NCAA’s name, image and likeness legislation. 

Weddle said he could talk “for about an hour about what I wish they should have done.”

The former Ute safety and NFL star, who helped the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl last season before retiring, didn’t hold back. 

“I think they rushed it. They handed it off to the universities and the NCAA wiped their hands and they’re free from all of it,” he said. “There’s really no structure or anything. There’s no balance. These kids have so much going on — family, teammates, school, social media, pressure, all this other crap. And now you’re throwing another element into them.

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“What matters most is working hard, going to school and focusing on football. Nothing else,” Weddle continued. “You’ll do everything that you want in this world by playing great on the football field. Not what you do off of it. For football players, that’s my message — focus on what you can control. All this other stuff in the long run is irrelevant.”

Weddle is glad that student-athletes are getting compensated but he wishes that money would come from the NCAA’s billion-dollar coffers. 

“But it isn’t that,” he said.

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NIL puts a lot of pressure on athletes, coaches and administrators, Weddle said.

“The navigating of it all isn’t easy. It’s not easy on the boys, it’s not easy on the coaches, the administration. … It’s hard. I can’t imagine being in that situation. Just focus on ball — that’s what I tell them.”

Weddle would like to see the NCAA take some ownership of NIL issues, creating a fund that takes care of athletes when they’re done playing, such as paying for medical bills.

“Every athlete across every sport gets a cut. That’s what I would have hoped for. Take it from the NCAA and give it to everyone. Because everyone deserves it, not just the star players,” he said. “The undrafted and the drafted. The nonscholarship kid that’s paying for school and working deserves it just as much as everybody else. He deserves a little something. He’s putting in every effort and every hour and on top of that he’s working to pay for school. There’s a lot that can be made better.” 

Utah safety Eric Weddle was in Salt Lake City last week to be inducted into the Utah Athletics Hall of Fame. | August Miller, Deseret News
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