News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Pro Sports

February 2, 2012

TODD GOLDEN: Teammates, colleagues express their loyalty to Weatherford

INDIANAPOLIS — Sometimes you worry whether someone is stopping to smell the roses when they smell rosiest.

New York Giants punter and Terre Haute native Steve Weatherford is definitely not someone you worry about reveling in the moment.

Weatherford was a force of nature during Tuesday’s Super Bowl XLVI Media Day at Lucas Oil Stadium. He had his camera and was filming, he was Tweeting, he took a TV camera crew’s camera and did some of his own interviews, and at the end of Media Day, he jumped into the stands and signed autographs.

This probably comes as no surprise to anyone in Terre Haute. Weatherford is beloved for his outgoing nature and willingness to make the community feel a part of his success. He proved it again when he and teammates Lawrence Tynes and Zak DeOssie rode to Terre Haute after Media Day to appear at Terre Haute North to an adoring crowd at Terre Haute North … traveling from Indianapolis by police escort, no less.

Weatherford is fiercely loyal to the two teammates with which he works closest. Tynes is the Giants’ kicker and DeOssie the long snapper.

“I’m with those guys all day, everyday. I hold the success of Lawrence Tynes’ job in my hands. If I’m not good, he’s not good and I take that very seriously,” Weatherford said. “Aside from work, those are great guys. I’ve been on teams where I got along with the kicker and snapper, but we weren’t best friends. That’s not the case here. We bring that successful relationship on the field.”

The feeling that Tynes and DeOssie have for Weatherford is reciprocated. And while they love his wild side, they also make pains to note that Weatherford is also the consummate professional. Tynes and DeOssie know as well as anyone that Weatherford would not be playing in his sixth NFL season if not for his work ethic and commitment to his profession.

“He came here with a tenacity to be the best at what he can do. He’s always working as hard he can. He’s consistent with his routines and everything. Mainly, he’s confident. As a punter, a holder and a specialist, you have to be confident,” DeOssie said.

The most obvious example of Weatherford’s commitment is his physique. Few, if any, punters have ever had a photo spread devoted to them in Men’s Fitness Magazine, but Weatherford was in the December issue of the magazine.

“I take my fitness seriously. I went to play this game as long as I can. Being in shape, taking care of body and eating right will improve my longevity in the National Football League. That’s why I do it,” Weatherford said.

Weatherford’s physique gets him noticed among his colleagues. And elicits a good-natured snide comment or two.

“I asked him to get me a signed copy of his spread in Men’s Fitness, but he still hasn’t,” said New England’s Zoltan Mesko, Weatherford’s opposite number with the Patriots.

Weatherford’s conditioning is no joke to his teammates. He is one of the strongest members of the Giants. Given how unusual it is for a punter to be as ripped as Weatherford is, he has the respect from teammates who can see the evidence of the time and commitment he puts in.

“He’s three percent body fat. Pound for pound, he’s the strongest guy on the team. He takes a lot of pride in his conditioning and lifting. He doesn’t take any flak. He’s one of the guys. That whole kicker-punter thing? That’s from the 80s,” Tynes said.

Though they’ve only worked together for a season, Tynes is loyal to Weatherford. He noted that their families have become close and he’s developed a near-instant bond.

“Our professional relationship is very workmanlike. We’re yin and yang, but it works. He’s a bit of wild child and I’m a little bit more calm and reserved. He’s a lot of fun to work with,” Tynes said.

Tynes said the best example of Weatherford’s wild child side was displayed for all of the cameras to see in the NFC Championship Game. Weatherford’s jubilant jaunt across the Candlestick Park gridiron after Tynes booted the Giants into the Super Bowl is as indelible image for Tynes as it was for everyone else.

“You saw him running off the field with his ‘beep, beep,’ ” said Tynes, referring to profanity that Weatherford slipped out in celebratory glee. “That picture is one of my favorites I’ve ever seen in this game. The joy he showed after that kick, for a guy who has been in the championship four times and lost three, it goes to show that grown men in uniforms play a game, but the best part is when you’re running around celebrating.”

But Weatherford can’t celebrate a thing unless he puts his work in. And it all cycles back around to that.

“He’s a professional. He knows how to turn on [his cutup side] and when to turn it off. He loves heavy metal and he loves to have fun, but when it’s time to work, he knows it’s time,” DeOssie said.

It’s Weatherford’s time. He’s having fun, but come Sunday, there’s no doubt he’ll be prepared and ready to play.

Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at todd.golden@tribstar.com or at (812) 231-4272. Please follow Golden on Twitter @TribStarTodd.

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