On Friday night, Sean Weatherspoon stood in a small meeting room signing programs while preparing for his induction into the Missouri athletics hall of fame, eagerly waiting for an NFL team to pick up the phone and sign him.
On Tuesday, the Atlanta Falcons did just that.
Weatherspoon signed with the defending NFC champions for the third time in his career, as the Falcons need depth at linebacker after rookie Duke Riley’s knee injury.
On Friday, Weatherspoon, 29, said he’d been living in Atlanta while waiting to get signed and working out at Georgia Tech to stay in shape. He had been talking to Atlanta for a while but nothing had materialized until recently.
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“My skill set hasn’t changed,” he said. “I just had an injury last year so teams look at you a little differently. I’m just a little older these days.”
Atlanta selected Weatherspoon with the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He seemed to be on his way to being a Pro Bowler before a ruptured Achilles tendon ended his season in 2014. After a brief stint with the Arizona Cardinals, Weatherspoon returned to Atlanta in 2016 but his season ended in the fifth week because of another torn Achilles.
Before getting signed by Atlanta, Weatherspoon, commonly referred to as “Spoon” by Mizzou fans, was very active with the Tigers program because he has a close relationship with coach Barry Odom.
Weatherspoon spoke to the team before its game against Georgia, which he was on the sidelines for, and addressed a group of prospects over the summer at the program’s “Night at the ’Zou” recruiting event.
He played in the alumni basketball game over the summer, which was put on by former Mizzou basketball stars Laurence Bowers and DeMarre Carroll and said the game showed him he was ready to return to the NFL.
“I’m ready to go,” he said. “I’ve been doing well for a while.”