Jul 242014
 
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Steve Weatherford (5), Josh Brown (3), New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Josh Brown Kicks the Game-Winner in Overtime – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Steve Weatherford (5), Lawrence Tynes (9), New York Giants (October 28, 2012)

Steve Weatherford and Lawrence Tynes – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Not every punter can roam the sidelines of NFL games, look up into the stands and see their own jersey on kids, teens and parents.

Less can claim they attempted to get their team to the ‘next level’ by purchasing each member a “shake weight.” Even fewer can say they went to a prom at 32 years old, or started a social media tradition that is quickly reaching national holiday status.

Then again, not every punter is Steve Weatherford.

“I transcend the position,” Weatherford said with a smile. “I’m just having fun with it. It’s typical when people think of kickers and punters that they’re the guy you rarely see and are never heard of.

“I’m not necessarily a spotlight guy, I just enjoy what I’m doing.”

And New York loves him for it.

Since signing with the Giants as a free agent in 2011, Weatherford has done much more than win a kicking competition with Matt Dodge. He’s slowly but surely worked his way into the hearts of Giants’ fans across the country.

Be it his up-beat personality, signature laugh, body building motivation or self-created ‘Weatherford Wednesday,’ there’s something about the Indiana native that has fans gravitating towards him.

“I never thought I’d make it in the NFL, so for me, I enjoy every opportunity that I have,” Weatherford said. “It’s a blessing and an amazing opportunity. I think people kind of feel that.

“I think people see the stuff that I put up on social media and my interaction with people in general. They understand that I really do appreciate it.”

On instagram and twitter, Weatherford has amassed nearly 130,000 ‘followers.’ But it’s not just his name that has made the punter endearing to fans, it’s how he uses both outlets.

Weatherford is constantly reaching out to his following with motivation, appreciation and thanks. Anytime a picture pops up of anyone with ‘Weatherford’ etched across their back, there’s a ‘#TeamWeatherford’ response almost instantly.

In a world where professional athletes feel entitled to the fame bestowed upon them and believe they are above those that come to watch them play each Sunday, Weatherford consistently displays he’s the exact opposite. As was the case when he took Bayonne High School senior Lauren Delbert to her prom.

In April, Delbert tweeted Weatherford a photo of a football with ‘Wanna tackle prom with me?’ inscribed on the back. In typical Weatherford fashion, Weatherford responded in a way only Weatherford could.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 7.55.51 PM

“I was shocked,” Delbert told NJ.com. “The New York Giants sent me a direct message to confirm that it was real.”

Weatherford made good on his promise, taking Delbert and her boyfriend, Steven Schumann, to prom. Their ride? A 2008 Bentley.

“I think I had more fun than they did,” Weatherford said. “The fun thing about going back to prom this year is the principal couldn’t tell me anything. If I wanted to grab the microphone and get on the table and start dancing, he wasn’t going to tell me to get down.”

But there was a bigger picture for Weatherford than just showcasing his self proclaimed much-improved dance moves. His trip to prom wasn’t his last of the season.

Steve Weatherford, New York Giants (January 22, 2012)

Steve Weatherford – © USA TODAY Sports Images

After Delbert, Weatherford held a writing contest with seniors at Southern Regional High School, an area greatly impacted by Hurricane Sandy. While Weatherford took his wife, Laura, as his date this time, the winners and their dates were provided prom dresses, accessories, hair and make-up styling, transportation and more.

All organized by Weatherford, who plans to turn ‘Project Prom’ into an annual occurrence. This year, he’ll have some help.

“My teammates all saw the videos and pictures that were posted on my social media that weekend,” Weatherford said. “They were like, ‘Man, you look like you had so much fun. I wanna do it next year.’ That’s exactly what I wanted to have happen.

“I wanted other celebrities, not just my teammates, to want to do that, too. It was a lot of fun and it was an experience I’ll never forget. But more importantly, I was able to give 20 students the gift of going to their senior prom which is something they’ll never forget as well.”

Why? Because that’s who he is. He’s not your everyday punter.

Then again, Steve Weatherford’s not like many other people, either.

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Connor Hughes/BBI

Connor Hughes has been working in both the broadcasting and journalism fields for the last seven years. His work has been heard on WMCX, WBZC and Lenape District Television, while read on the pages of The Star-Ledger and The Burlington County Times. Connor can be reached via email (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com) or on twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes)

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