a passion for the game
They call Brennen Weidl “Coop,” which evolved in that roundabout, comical way that guys devise nicknames for each other. To understand the etymology of that nickname is to glean insight into the four Weidl brothers who grew up on Jaycee Drive.
“Coop” is short for Cooper Manning, who is the non-famous older brother of NFL star quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning. Brennen Weidl, Mt. Lebanon High School class of 1997, is the only one of four brothers whose profession has no connection to the NFL. He works locally in corporate institutional banking for PNC after working in San Diego, San Francisco and on Wall Street.
Growing up, the brothers were featured in the December 1995 issue of Mt. Lebanon Magazine. They are all well into adulthood now, but the connection to the sport—and to each other—remains strong.
Andy Weidl, Lebo class of ’92, is the east regional scout for the Baltimore Ravens. Kevin Weidl, ’01, is a college football and NFL draft analyst for Scouts Inc., a subsidiary of ESPN. Casey Weidl, ’05, is a video assistant for the Buffalo Bills. All four Weidls played football for the Blue Devils.
For Andy and Kevin in particular, the NFL draft, April 30-May 2, is the culmination of months of work and a focal point of their jobs.
“It’s a nine-month process,” says Andy, who, beginning in August, travels extensively to colleges to scout potential draft picks for the Ravens by watching practices, games and video, and interviewing team officials. After the season, he attends college all-star games, the weeklong NFL scouting combine in February, pro day workouts at various schools, and draft meetings with fellow team officials.
It means early mornings, long days, a good deal of travel and lots of detail work, but because his work isn’t tied to the Ravens’ offices on a regular basis, he doesn’t have to live in Baltimore. Andy and his wife, Aimee, haven’t strayed too far from Mt. Lebanon. They live in Nevillewood with 2-year-old daughter Payten and 1-year-old son Luke. That has allowed Aimee to continue to run deStefino, a salon and spa on the South Side where Steelers and Pitt football coaches have been known to get their hair cut.
Andy has a Super Bowl ring from Baltimore’s 2012 championship. “My daughter was born 20 days after the Super Bowl, so it was a big month,” says Andy, who also worked for New Orleans after getting his start with the Steelers, where he said former director of football operations Tom Donahoe, another Mt. Lebanon native, was instrumental in shaping his career.
Andy played guard at Villanova University after playing linebacker and tight end for Mt. Lebanon. The family traveled to his games, and Kevin, not yet in high school, worked on the sideline as a water boy.
Kevin, like Andy, travels a lot during the football season. He scouts college players by watching games. Instead of reporting back to a team that will be drafting players, Kevin offers his analysis on TV, radio and online, getting football fans ready for the draft.
Although Andy and Kevin do some similar prep work, they intentionally don’t compare notes on players leading up to the draft, Kevin says. That’s partly because they want to keep things professional, and partly because they might have differing evaluations.
“Each team has their own opinion, different grades,” says Kevin. “You’d be surprised where some teams have a guy, and other teams have the same guy. Andy has fewer players to look at, but he goes deeper. We [Scouts Inc.] have three of us to cover the whole country. We don’t go to the school visits; we don’t meet with people. I’m more broad.”
Kevin played quarterback for Mt. Lebanon, including on the 2000 WPIAL championship team and played the same position in college for IUP. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where ESPN has a studio.
“For those two, that’s the biggest time of the season,” Brennen says of Andy and Kevin. “Getting ready for the draft is their Super Bowl.”
Casey, who lives in Buffalo, works at the draft but is busiest in-season. During games, he is charged with providing the still pictures players study when their unit is not on the field. You might have spotted the popular Microsoft Surface tablets with their protective light-blue covers being used on the sidelines of NFL games. He is also part of a department that breaks down video of the Bills and opponents for the coaching staff.
“It doesn’t feel like I work. It doesn’t feel like a job,” Casey says. “I know I could be making a good amount more money in accounting, but I wouldn’t be as happy.”
Brennen lives in Peters with his wife, Dixie, and their daughter, Rooney, who was born in October, and he still tries to attend Blue Devils games. “My heart still lives in Mt. Lebanon. I still follow them and keep up,” he says.
The Weidl brothers’ passion for football can be traced to a time when their father, George, took a young Andy to a Mt. Lebanon game because a neighbor boy played. Andy started playing in fifth grade at Our Lady of Grace School, and the chain was set. The younger boys followed.
Former Lebo football coach Paul Kmec was on the field coaching the varsity team on Friday nights and in the stands on Saturdays watching the JV team. He recalls that by the time Andy got to be a senior, Kmec was watching all the Weidls.“ At halftime of the JV games, his younger brothers used to run onto the field and get their own game going,” Kmec says. “They wouldn’t just be throwing the ball around; they were tackling each other. I guess they had no choice—if one played, they were all going to play.”
That’s pretty much how it was.
In a household where mom Joanne was the only female—“Even our dog was a male,” Brennen said of a Yorkshire terrier named Scruffy—and George was at one time president of the Blue Devil Club, boys ruled. The brothers were rambunctious, active, always involved in something. And always close, even though they were spaced out in age.
“I don’t go a day without at least a simple text with my brothers … I can’t go without talking to my brothers,” Casey says. That’s despite the piling on, in a physical sense, Casey got as the youngest.
“It was competitive. We had fun. It was great,” Andy says. “Casey took his lumps as the youngest.”
That’s a point of pride for the youngest brother. “I had 18 sets of stitches growing up,” says Casey. “It wasn’t all them. A couple of them were my fault. But we all share bumps and bruises. I would want to hang out with them, but they would torture me. If I cried, my mom would say, ‘That’s it. You’re hanging out with me.’ If I wanted to hang out with them, I had to be tough.”
That continued after Andy went to Villanova and the family got a trampoline. “I can’t believe my dad allowed us to have a trampoline in the back yard,” Kevin says. When they weren’t abusing that trampoline, the boys joined in with others in the neighborhood for backyard football, street hockey and other active ventures.
“Always running around, always a lot going on,” Kevin says. “Somebody always had friends over. Or we were going to watch our brothers play.”
This is how competitive—lovingly—the brothers are:
Despite the preponderance of newer, more sophisticated electronic games, they have been playing NHL ’94 by Sega Genesis since it came out. There are rules—no one gets to be Chicago because the brothers believe the Blackhawks were programmed to be too good, while Mario Lemieux and the Penguins, who had recently won back-to-back Stanley Cups, were underrated.
“There have actually been some fights over that back in the day, in the 90s,” Kevin says. “For Andy’s bachelor party, we brought three Segas and had a big tournament.”
Just like when they were young.
“Growing up, there was tough love,” Brennen says, not referring to their parenting but to the boys’ relationship. “We rough-housed each other. At the end of the day, we’re still brothers. We’re very close today.” Even living in three states, two single, two married with families.
“Where we’re at, it’s kind of a testament to how we were raised—values and morals,” Kevin says. “I had my bumps in college, where I got in trouble. We weren’t perfect. But we learned from it. If we got out of line, we knew the consequences.
“We are all different, but we’re similar, if that makes sense. We all have different qualities in how we act and think, but as we’re getting older and starting to have kids, and we’re not together all the time, we’re starting to realize how lucky or fortunate we are to have good brothers who care so much. I love them to death.”