Steve Weatherford is finally in his comfort zone.
He has job security, professional success and the contract to go with his achievements.
The New York Giants made a major investment in the strong-legged punter, signing him to a five-year, $12.75 million contract that includes a $3.25 million signing bonus.
Now, he's intent on continuing to justify their faith in him.
A former undrafted free agent from Illinois, Steve Weatherford has also played for the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets.
With the Jets two seasons ago, Weatherford tied the record for most punts inside the 20-yard line in a single season with 42.
For the New York Giants last season, he averaged 45.7 yards with a net average of 39.2 yards.
Weatherford follows a demanding workout regimen, bench pressing nearly 400 pounds and squatting 475 pounds.
In the Super Bowl, Weatherford averaged 40.8 yards. By pinning the New England Patriots deep, Weatherford set up the Giants for a safety.
He set a Super Bowl record with three punts forcing the Patriots to start inside their own 10-yard line. He could have had a fourth, but a bad bounce carried his second one into the end zone.
He was named the franchise player before the Giants came to an agreement with him on the long-term deal.
We caught up with Weatherford recently for the following interview:
Scout: Besides the money, what does the contract mean to you?
Weatherford: "It's very flattering to know that somebody wants me there for that long, possibly longer. I had so much fun playing for Tom Coughlin and our special teams coach Tom Quinn. It's so much fun. It showed with my play.
Scout: What's it like to be a world champion?
Weatherford: "It's arguably the greatest thing in the world. We have so many great fans. It feels so good to represent this city in this way and this fashion. To go from 7-7 when everybody had given up on us around the NFL, our fans believed in us. We were able to go on a memorable run that was so much fun."
Scout: What will you do with the extra money?
Weatherford: "It gives you a little more financial flexibility. Back in Terre Haute, I'm going to start a scholarship fund. I've already been philanthropic with football camps. I've organized a 5K. It gives me more flexibility to select kids from each of the elementary schools and take them shoe shopping and then run in the 5K. It allows you to give back and take care of your family and take care of your family. That's the No. 1 thing. I want to do the right thing by them. I have three kids and a wife to take care of. Being flexible and blessed financially, I'm able to help others."
Scout: Where can you improve?
Weatherford: "I'm always looking for that 45-yard average and that 40-yard net. I want to lead the NFL in punts downed inside the 20-yard line. That's what I want to bring to our defense. I want them to thrive off of me putting the ball up close to the goal line and backing up the opposing offense."
Scout: What was your favorite part of the Super Bowl experience?
Weatherford: "The ticker-tape parade was special. You get back and it's only been 28 hours since you walked off the field as a Super Bowl champ and you're in the middle of downtown New York City sharing the job and excitement. It was great. People are high-fiving you, telling you they love you. It was really cool."
Scout: Do you get recognized much around New York?
Weatherford: "I get recognized a whole lot more. Unless you screw up, people don't pay much attention to the punter. It's flattering, it's cool. It's been great. I love our fans."
Scout: Where are you training?
Weatherford: "I'm in San Diego right now training until May 1. Then, I'll catch up with the team. I'm trying to get back in shape. John Carney is the guy who's been my trainer-mentor-kicking coach. He flew to all the playoff games He was a teammate of mine in 2006 and to see me go from a rookie to where I'm at now, he's very proud. I give him a lot of credit. It's been such a blessing."
Scout: How important is your faith to you for what you're doing?
Weatherford: "Obviously, I feel like the whole reason I'm doing what I'm doing is because I've been given a gift. A lot of people are given gifts, but they don't utilize them. I'm blessed to be around people like John Carney. I have a very strong faith. I use my gifts for punting a ball. As I've matured as a football player, I'm getting pretty good at giving inspirational speeches. As a guy who set a Super Bowl record on sports' biggest stage, that's helped me attain what I've attained and given me a bigger platform to spread my faith to other people."
I’m getting pretty good at giving inspirational speeches and a guy who set a Super Bowl record on sports' biggest stage, helped me attain what I’ve attained as an athlete given me a bigger platform to spread my faith to other people."
Scout: What was it like playing for Rex Ryan?
Weatherford: "It was a lot of fun. He's got a lot of energy. He's a player's guy. I really enjoyed playing for him. It was exhausting playing for the special teams coach. Overall, it was a blast."
Scout: What keeps you motivated to stay sharp?
Weatherford: "There's only 32 jobs out there. There's no backup punters, no backup plan. Either you're a starting punter in the NFL or you don't have a job. I sleep good at night because I know nobody will train harder than me, nobody's diet is as strict as mine. I prepare myself to succeed.
"I control how hard I work. There's a lot of guys who don't have jobs that might be more talented than I am, but I worked hard and I'm more disciplined. I work hard for everything I've gotten."
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