Weddle said his father Steve taught him to respect his opponent and treat the game right. You always congratulate your opponent and never make excuses for a loss, Weddle said.
Weddle had also developed respect for Beck after observing the way he handled pressure and intense scrutiny over his career.
So when Weddle saw Beck after the game, he was moved to say something and he didn't care what others might think. Despair and devastation were temporarily replaced by esteem and admiration.
"For whatever reason, I felt it in me to go up to him and say, 'Hey man, I feel horrible right now, but I am happy for you,'" Weddle said. "Obviously I would go back and win that game a thousand times, but it was his shining moment. I can appreciate and respect a guy who puts it all on the line and does whatever he can to help his team win. I see myself as that guy."
Beck recalls Weddle saying something to the effect of, "That was awesome, an amazing game. A lot of people are going to remember this one, great job." The classy gesture by Weddle left a deep impression on Beck.
"I have been in games like that, to go down to the wire and lose, you know he was sick inside. Not everybody has character like that," Beck said. "People don't understand how much high-caliber athletes invest to get those wins and when it doesn't happen, it hurts. He walked up at a moment when it hurt and was a person of high character. That is the mark of a champion on and off the field. To be honest, if I would have lost that game, I don't know if I would have walked up to say great job."
The two players talked about one other thing in the brief exchange — fishing. A mutual friend had tried to set up a fishing trip for the trio, but it didn't feel appropriate until the season was over.
"When I had my arm on his shoulder, on TV you can see me smile at him. That's when I said, 'I guess we can go fishing now.'" Beck said.
Weddle agreed: "Yeah, we will have to do that."
Chad Lewis, former BYU and NFL tight end, later said the exchange between Weddle and Beck set a remarkable example of sportsmanship for every athlete in Utah.
"It was incredible. For me personally, and for all the players at BYU and Utah. He (Eric Weddle) set a standard for class that was very impressive," Lewis said.
In recent years when the Cougar and Ute have been together, they like to discuss hunting, fishing, golf and anything outdoors.
"He's kind of a nerd in a sense, always joking around," Weddle said. "When we get together it's a good time."
Beck admitted Weddle is the better golfer, but he expects to catch more fish. "I'll smoke him," the quarterback said.
They also talk serious football and reflect on the days of the rivalry. Eric likes to brag that his touchdown pass had a sweeter spiral than any of John's.
Both guys are glad the big game will continue to be played in years to come.
Recalling Max Hall's 2009 postgame comments also sparked a good discussion. Both remembered how their families were treated at rivalry games. Following the '04 loss at Rice-Eccles, Beck was recognized by Utah fans while leaving with his wife and parents. He said the fans were cordial and complimentary of the good things BYU did in the game, Beck said.
When Beck was a Miami Dolphin, he and his family were on a plane when another passenger identified him. "He said he was a Utah fan and that he will hate me forever," Beck said.
For players who are worried about their families at rivalry games, they might consider staying home, Weddle said. The first time he went with the Chargers to play in Oakland, his family was heckled, pushed out of restrooms and told to remove their Weddle jerseys. They haven't been back since.
"I don't think it's right that people get yelled at and treated rudely, but people need to realize the situation is hard to control. You got to know you are going into a hostile environment. Stuff happens. If you don't want your family subjected to that, then don't go," Weddle said. "That's why my family doesn't go to Oakland."
Both players agree that generally speaking, fans are great and rivalry games are a blast.
"Rivalry games are different because of the fans, the communities and the magnitude of the game. When you go to a certain school, you become part of that rivalry, regardless of your background. That's why fans love it," Beck said. "You may dislike the other team, but that is also why you should respect them."
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