Falcons’ Weatherspoon showing he’s not empty noise

Sean Weatherspoon may talk a lot, but the Falcons have learned to embrace the noise. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Sean Weatherspoon talks a lot, but the Falcons are embracing the noise. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH — For most people, talking interrupts the silence. For Sean Weatherspoon, it’s the other way around. It’s widely believed he spent about seven minutes as a baby in the goo-goo, gah-gah period of communication, and then advanced directly to a full-blown monologue.

“If I played offense, I’d be writing down his license plate,” said linebacker Mike Peterson. “And then when I got a chance, I’d look him up — and shut him up.”

And he actually likes Weatherspoon.

How much does Weatherspoon talk? So much that in the weeks leading to the NFL draft, some teams decided to ignore the game tape from Missouri because they believed he wasn’t worth the trouble. Or the punctured ear drums.

An unnamed executive from one team was quoted in Pro Football Weekly as saying: “He never shuts up. He gives me a headache. I don’t want him in my locker room.”

To all of the detractors, the Falcons say: Thank you.

Weatherspoon already has gotten into two scrapes but his enthusiastic attitude has been infectious. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Weatherspoon already has gotten into two scrapes, but his enthusiastic attitude has been infectious. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

They believe they will be better on defense because of Weatherspoon. He gives them what they need: An outside linebacker with speed, ability and exuberance. If daily loud annoyances are unfortunate byproducts of that, so be it.

“I notice when people get angry at me,” Weatherspoon said, smiling, like this was a badge of honor. “Sometimes they want to come after me.”

Was he always this way?

“Oh yes, even when I was young,” he said. “If you would listen, I would talk.

“I always got into in trouble in school. My progress report would say, ‘Talks excessively.’”

General manager Thomas Dimitroff comes from New England, where players are disciplined, bordering on robotic.

“We were hypersensitive to bulletin-board material,” he said.

He drafted Weatherspoon anyway. When he witnessed him up close at Senior Bowl practices, others were scared off, but he was intrigued.

“Some people in the league were taken back by the loquaciousness,” he said. “It spurred a lot of discussion, whether he was going to be disruptive, because he was so over the top. In my mind it was worth [researching], whether it was contrived or it was truly his personality. We came to the conclusion it was never a negative-driven enthusiasm.”

If Weatherspoon was perceived as merely a megaphone with ears, Dimitroff wouldn’t have taken him the 19th pick. But he impressed the team in several interviews, and in “white board” sessions with coaches.

“When he’s in the room, he has a presence,” Dimitroff said.

No kidding. On the first day of full-pad practices, Weatherspoon nearly took off running back Antone Smith’s head — problem being, he didn’t realize it wasn’t intended as a full-speed drill. (”I just got caught up in the moment,” he said.)

The next day, Weatherspoon (6-2, 245) scuffled with tackle Sam Baker (6-5, 307).

It’s what you would expect from somebody who has studied highlights from the likes of Ray Lewis, Lawrence Taylor, Dick Butkus, Jack Ham and Ray Nitschke.

“You definitely want people to know that you’re here,” he said. “My goal is to come in and make plays. I want to show that I belong.”

He also understands he’s a rookie. After practices, he carries Peterson’s shoulder pads and helmet. He brings drinks and snacks to veterans. He sings on demand.

“The linebackers made me do it,” he said. “Ruben Studdard, ‘[Flying] Without Wings.’”

Dimitroff told his scouts not to think, “We can change him.” He wanted to know if the real Weatherspoon would fit in. Fortunately, the player didn’t try to low-key it at the Senior Bowl.

“Everybody was so quiet during the stretch,” he said. “It’s like, ‘This is not me. This is not normal.’ So I just started yakking it up. Next thing you know, everybody was into it. Just because we were in front of all GMs and scouts doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun.”

Final story: Falcons officials were meeting with one last player before the draft at UCLA. Dimitroff sat in the back of the room, listening to coaches talk to the prospect.

“My mind was wandering,” he recalled.

At that moment, he took personnel director Les Snead’s small whiteboard and wrote down one of his mantras: “Positive. Passionate. Perserverance.” He added a “12” (Weatherspoon’s uniform number at Missouri) after each word.

“I started thinking, ‘Why are we wasting our time to see if he’s going to fit in?’” he said.

The new mantra in Flowery Branch: Embrace the noise.

Last 4 posts (add fries and a drink for a complete meal)

An early look at NFC’s Super Bowl picks: Falcons are No. 2

Hawks dropped the ball on not signing Shaq

♦ Braves trying to keep it going with team of moving parts

Favre’s retirement (really? finally?) is opening for Falcons

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

90 comments Add your comment

CW52

August 5th, 2010
3:16 pm

CW52

August 5th, 2010
3:17 pm

by the way jeff great blog

smokin heap

August 5th, 2010
3:19 pm

well–ok then–maybe he can back it

Matty Ice....Real Name No Gimmicks

August 5th, 2010
3:19 pm

Love it! Kid will be great

CW52

August 5th, 2010
3:21 pm

hes a hass he will be the next brooking and beyond exept he will have a ring and brooking wont GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1eyedJack

August 5th, 2010
3:25 pm

Let’s see if he can bring da noise when the lights come on.

Steve

August 5th, 2010
3:26 pm

Spoon will be a Pro-Bowler for a long time in the ATL! We have been looking for this kind of impact player on defense for a long time!

JOe T

August 5th, 2010
3:27 pm

Nice article Schultze……………….nice to see you bring the kid to a positive position instead of tearing down Mark Richt like you did last week!!!!! Anyway, all is forgiven….nice article!

blord

August 5th, 2010
3:33 pm

Good write up!!!! As long as he is humble off the field and plays well I think it is great to have a little verbal attitude to go with it.

whitey ford foxy brown

August 5th, 2010
3:35 pm

I’m usually someone who thinks that a person who talks a lot is just running there mouth, but I think spoon is the rare exception, who can also back it up. I don’t thimk he is trying to be disrespectful either. I beleive he is just an exuberant (rookie) that’s excited to be playing in the NFL. I hope his passion rubs off, not only on the defense, but the whole team. This team needs some fire in there belly. I beleive they have a chance to be great for a good while. Let’s remember Spoon is a rookie and is living his dream. Besides after last season, this defense needs not just a spark, but to burn ablaze with the realization that they can win.

F-105 Thunderchief

August 5th, 2010
3:36 pm

Here’s hoping he’ll be great.

Coop

August 5th, 2010
3:36 pm

It’ll be great as long as we’re winning. It’ll be a distraction if we start losing.

Bob Didier Caught Here

August 5th, 2010
3:38 pm

Mark it here first…..

This guys “act” is going to start to wear thin if the Birds go on a bit of a losing streak! Most (and noticed I said MOST) of these kind of loud mouths are just me, myself and I type of individuals. This guy may have all world talent but not once have I read about all world humility!

renegade#1

August 5th, 2010
3:39 pm

If you talk the talk you got to walk the walk. I just believe Spoon can back it up. Stomp a mudhole in your ass and walk it dry. Don’t sell the man short.

yo mama

August 5th, 2010
3:49 pm

guys every team has a mouth, and they said he is a positive influence. he knows he will have to walk the walk if he talks the talk. so, what. didnt deion run his mouth, didnt andre rison run his mouth. if the kid can play, then let him play. he will learn when he gets burned, or misses a tackle, or gets run over. the mouth will silence when that happens. watch.

@DanWeiner

August 5th, 2010
3:51 pm

SPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON

newkid

August 5th, 2010
3:52 pm

“Loquacious” Sounds a bit like an adjective many applied to another young Falcon 21 years back.

gdg73

August 5th, 2010
3:54 pm

I like it. Just what this defense needs, talent, enthusiasm, and personality. I smell a team leader in the making. But some fans will label him as a trouble-maker, a prima donna, a loud-mouth, and too cocky for their liking and want too run him out of town soon. Just watch. I know this conservative fan-base. They like their players extra vanilla (no flavor, no frills).

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CJ

August 5th, 2010
3:55 pm

Maybe it’ll add a little swagger to our defense that has none. We need a guy to get the crew riled up like Kerney and Brooking used to.

gdg73

August 5th, 2010
3:57 pm

newkid, you mean that future hall of famer from FSU that was never appreciated here by the fans, local media, or front office and who left and won super bowls elsewhere?

tony

August 5th, 2010
3:58 pm

I was against us taking Spoon but after Graham was taken by the Eagles it didn’t matter. We really need a personality like Spoon because he is very vocal and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. A player with his mentality can pump a team up like a Ray Lewis or a Lawrence Talor. He might be the spark plug that this team needs.

DJ

August 5th, 2010
3:59 pm

I haven’t seen him play yet but he already reminds me of another obnoxious LB – Derrick Brooks.

DB won alot of games for the Bucs including several against the Falcons and now he can’t get a cup of coffee in the league.

Let’s hope this guy is half of that.

uga_b

August 5th, 2010
4:00 pm

With so many “professionals” who lack enthusiasm and just show up for the paycheck, it is nice to add someone who embraces “urgency” in all aspects of his life. Positivity is expected; Perserverance is respected; but, Passion is infective.

walk the walk kid

August 5th, 2010
4:00 pm

It’s ok if he turns into a great player. But nobody wants to hear a half a$$ed player talk smack ( Deangelo Hall comes to mind). I do like his aggressive nature and his enthusiasm to show that he belongs and eagerness to knock the hell out of somebody. But i still want to see it on the filed when the games are for real.

fear the talons

August 5th, 2010
4:03 pm

I don’t care if he sings all game long, just so he’s knocking the snot outta the opposing team, especially the quarterback. bring it spoon

Keith

August 5th, 2010
4:04 pm

I like a player who plays with passion and aggressiveness. I believe that this will be one of Dimitroff’s all time great draft picks.

newkid

August 5th, 2010
4:05 pm

gdg73, guilty.

fear the talons

August 5th, 2010
4:06 pm

oh yeah, remember when glanville came back and brought the all black helmets and stuff, the practices were wide open hitting, the scrimmage fight with philly, then they beat the hell outta warren moon in week 1, I hope this defense is similar to that, go birds

phoenix falcon

August 5th, 2010
4:06 pm

spoon reminds me of Neon Deion…………

gdg73

August 5th, 2010
4:07 pm

I like it. Just what this defense/team needs. A player with talent, enthusiasm, and personality. It’s still early, but it appears he has the makings of a future leader of the defense. All he needs to do now is make plays on the field. But then again, based on this fickled fan based, that might not even be enough. Just watch. He’ll probably be labeled as a loud-mouth, trouble-maker, primadonna, and too cocky for some in this overall “conservative” fan-base. Remember, this team/town likes its “stars” with no frills.

Mr. Phil

August 5th, 2010
4:09 pm

I have known guys like that. The ones who can back up the talk are the ones you are forced to respect. The others….

Long as Spoon backs up the talk (which I fully believe he will) we got another potential pro bowl linebacker on our hands to plug in next to Lofton.

Kushion

August 5th, 2010
4:12 pm

Bob Didier Caught Here

You know jack squat about football. Football is a sport of passion and determination not humility. In football linebackers knock the crap out of people (if they are any good) not act meek and humble. Why are you even in here, your obviously not a Falcon fan? If you had any ability to comprehend what you read at all you would realize it’s not an act you silly rabbit it’s the way he pumps himself up to play the game he loves. Don’t you ever get pumped up first thing in the morning when the breakfast line at your job is crowded??? You are just another one of those jealous underachieving haters that can’t stand for certain segments of society to excel and exceed anything that you could possibly do in your lifetime. Take your negative hater-aid and serve it at your teabag rallys you jerk. But before you go to your little haters convention….look alive I’m next at the drive-thru window and I told you I wanted those fries hot!

Mr. Phil

August 5th, 2010
4:12 pm

BTW

People almost never remember what you said. They mostly only remember what you did. Play lights out and talk as much as you want latter. (see Deion, Randy Moss, and a list that is way to long for this blog).

BC

August 5th, 2010
4:12 pm

Good read Jeff, I am looking forward to seeing Weatherspoon out there. I think he could be one of the draft’s steals.

gdg73

August 5th, 2010
4:13 pm

post my comment!!!

gdg73

August 5th, 2010
4:16 pm

Well said Kushion. Could not have said it better.

Brian

August 5th, 2010
4:19 pm

I cant wait to see this new defense!!!! Loaded with talent, if we don’t succeed, then time to dump BVG…….

newkid

August 5th, 2010
4:20 pm

How many ‘full Spoons’ will we see from Spoon56 this year?

Scoring system:
full Spoon = knocking QB out of game;
3/4 Spoon = QB sack;
1/2 Spoon = INT;
1/4 Spoon = fumble recovery.

Blue Fender

August 5th, 2010
4:26 pm

If Spoon plays like Ray Lewis (minus the murderin’), I’ll be happy.

leland

August 5th, 2010
4:28 pm

Everything else aside, Ledbetter brought up the central concern about Weatherspoon, viz. should he be given number 56.

extremus

August 5th, 2010
4:28 pm

It’s a bit hard from the article to determine if Weatherspoon is merely a “Chatty Cathy” who’ll talk about anything in general or a chest-thumping, trash-talking hedonist (and we all know there are FAR too many of those types in the NFL these days). I really, really hope it’s not the latter, no matter how talented he is or what he does on the field. Character is and should be a core component of any draftee, and out of the heart the mouth speaks. An excessive egomaniac will likely be more disruptive and detrimental to his team and its chemistry than he’d be worth even if he’s an All-Pro. Give me a team full of solid, hard-nosed football players over the best group of prima donnas you can put together any day.

uga_b

August 5th, 2010
4:34 pm

The “not a fan card”, the “race card”, and the “political card” in one post. I am impressed. Doesn’t make your point at all but is quite impressive.

Scott W.

August 5th, 2010
4:35 pm

Like it! Some fire in there!

Paddy

August 5th, 2010
4:43 pm

I don’t get it….whats not to like about this linebacker? If he crosses the line Coach Smith will set him straight. If coach Smith thinks he is disruptive, he’s gone. I just don’t see that happening with Spoon. I would like him on my team.

Not Don Waddell

August 5th, 2010
4:46 pm

I fall on both sides of this.

A guy like MeAngelo, who talked his ass off, with no game to match is a team killer.

A guy like Ray Lewis, who can back up every word he says, puts a franchise on his back and runs with it.

We will see if Weatherspoon is the former or latter. Should be interesting.

Tucker T

August 5th, 2010
4:53 pm

Well written Jeff. Nice job.

Tim Tebow's Tears

August 5th, 2010
4:59 pm

Helluva a write up Jeff. Damn good writing. Props

Just Sayin

August 5th, 2010
5:10 pm

Damn Kushion why the rage?

Just Sayin

August 5th, 2010
5:12 pm

Sound like he’s got that Dick Butkus kind of attitude.