News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 1, 2012

North alumnus finds himself a hit with Indy fans

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — The fact that Super Bowl XLVI, pitting the New York Giants against the New England Patriots, is being played at Lucas Oil Stadium suits Giants punter Steve Weatherford just fine.

Weatherford, 29, was born in Crown Point. But he was a multisport athlete at Terre Haute North High School, which is located about 70 miles west of the site of Sunday’s championship game.

A favorite son is coming home.

“It’s great. What an opportunity. I’m playing in a Super Bowl [near] my hometown, so I’m excited,” the affable Weatherford said Tuesday during Super Bowl Media Day. “It’s really special to be at media day and then drive 45 minutes and be at my parent’s house.”

The experience is so special that a trip was arranged following the media day that allowed the 6-foot-2, 211-pounder to return to his alma mater for a pep rally Tuesday afternoon. Thanks to some help from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Weatherford was able to make a quick getaway from downtown Indianapolis.

But before leaving, he was able to go into the grandstands at Lucas Oil Stadium and pose for pictures with fans. Not a bad way to return to his home state and hometown.

“It’s a dream come true. It’s every little boy’s dream to play in the [National Football League]. And to play in the National Football League is just the cherry on top,” Weatherford smiled while being surrounded by media Tuesday.

“[He’s] just [enjoying Super Bowl week] because this may never happen again. The percentage of this happening period is very low. So the fact that I’m standing here right now is unbelievable. What a blessing. I’m enjoying it. Ten years from now, I don’t think anyone is going to care about me. So I’m just enjoying it.”

So much so that he’s continuing a pet project that he started a few years ago. Weatherford collects the slightly used football cleats that his New York teammates discard after a few games and has them shipped back to Terre Haute. The shoes are then distributed to deserving youth in the Terre Haute area.

“I’ve tried to give back to the whole community because they’ve been so good for me throughout middle school and high school and college. Everybody’s been so supportive. To be in a situation like I’m in right now, to be able to give back, is such a blessing,” he voiced, adding that he often receives thank you notes from some of the kids who end up with the football gear.

“They are not so much thank you notes as they are crayon drawings. But it’s cool. My fridge at home is covered with ‘Go Giants’ pictures. Some of those kids aren’t big enough to wear the [football] cleats, but the fact that they have a pair of [New York defensive end] Justin Tuck’s cleats, they just keep them as trophies. So they love it.”