TERRE HAUTE —
In professional sports, when one door closes, another door sometimes opens to a better situation on the other side.
That has proven to be the case for Terre Haute native Steve Weatherford, whose career has reached its pinnacle in 2012 after landing with the New York Giants last offseason. The Terre Haute North graduate was released by the New York Jets after two seasons in 2011, and he had also been let go by the New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs prior to his arrival in New York.
On Friday, the Giants and Weatherford agreed on a five-year, $12.75-million contract, culminating a winter in which the 29-year-old played a critical role in the Giants’ winning Super Bowl XLVI in his home state. The deal includes a $3.2-million signing bonus.
“The last six weeks has been incredible,’ Weatherford told the Tribune-Star. “To go from finally getting past championship game to winning the Super Bowl, to getting franchise tagged, to getting a 5-year, multi-million dollar deal. It’s surreal. I’m just so happy and so proud of my family for helping make this possible.”
Weatherford averaged 45.7 yards per punt last season, and he was clutch in the playoffs. He pinned the New England Patriots inside the 10-yard line three times to set a Super Bowl record.
Also serving as the team’s holder, Weatherford came up with a low snap on the game-winning Lawrence Tynes field goal in the NFC Championship.
The Giants franchise tagged Weatherford, giving them more time to negotiate a long-term deal.
“When I got franchise tagged, my options were play that on a one-year deal or work with them on a long-term deal,” Weatherford said.
Weatherford and his wife Laura have two children, 4-year-old son Ace and 2-year-old daughter Carney. A third child is on the way.
“It feels great that a team wants me to so bad to give me that kind of money. It feels so good to give my wife and kids financial security,” Weatherford said. “That hasn’t happened without a lot of blessings and a lot of hard work.”
Continuing his career for coach Tom Coughlin and his staff in a city like New York is thrilling, he said.
“New York’s a fun town, but aside from that the coaching staff and franchise are just incredible,” Weatherford said. “They gave me a warm welcome and it was very encouraging. As soon as I got there, I was part of the guys as soon as I got there. It was a comfort level, that showed on Sundays. I was able to play really well, but a lot of that had to do with the comfort I had there.”
Return trips to the Super Bowl are not out of the question with quarterback Eli Manning in his prime and an elite defensive unit opposite the offense.
“Obviously, the nucleus of your team is going to be your QB. I really believe he’s one of the best in the league. We probably have the most clutch QB in the NFL. It’s mind-blowing how good he is in the fourth quarter,” Weatherford said. “As everyone in Indiana has seen, the Mannings are a classy family. It’s a blessing to see up close how humble and hard-working that family is. That’s a classy family.”