You may remember that during the offseason I solicited some questions from the community for New York Giants' punter Steve Weatherford. I sent those to Weatherford, but a trip to Africa, a visit to the White House and a billion or so other media requests intervened and the questions never got answered.
Well, far be it for anyone to think that the Giants' punter was blowing me, or you, off. When I saw Weatherford on Friday the first thing he did was apologize for not answering those questions. Saturday, he made good on that long-ago promise.
Weatherford sat down at a picnic table outside the Giants' UAlbany dining hall [with two wraps and two carry-out boxes of food, I might add] and answered your questions -- and some of mine -- while mostly ignoring his over-sized lunch.
After the jump, the results of BBV's Lunch With Steve Weatherford.
One of the questions I originally sent to Weatherford involved comparisons to Jeff Feagles, the great punter who retired from the Giants following the 2009 season.
"That's actually the most flattering thing anybody's ever said to me, when they compare me to him because when I first got into the NFL I decided I wanted to try to make myself the best directional punter in the league. At that time Jeff Feagles was the best. When people started comparing me to him I was like 'man, I think I've made it.' "
Weatherford also said he has a good relationship with another great former Giants' punter, Sean Landeta.
"He's been so encouraging and so complementary to me, even before I was with the Giants," Weatherford said.
For all of the great things Landeta did as a Giant, older Giants fans will remember the 1986 playoff game in Chicago where Landeta nearly whiffed on a punt. Which leads to another questions the BBV community had for Weatherford. what stadium is the toughest to punt in? Without hesitation, Weatherford chose Chicago.
"It's really windy. Obviously it can be very cold. The turf is not very good there. And their punt returner is one of the greatest ever, probably the greatest ever," Weatherford said. "Those are four factors that make it very difficult for a punter to really be a game-changer."
Weatherford, incidentally, is well aware of the Landeta near-whiff.
"I don't care you who are, if you punt long enough it's gonna happen, especially up there," Weatherford said. "I can't say anything bad about him because before it's all over it may happen to me."
One reader also wanted to know how punting in bad weather changes what a punter does.
"I'm a good inclement weather punter, but it still doesn't make it easy," Weatherford said. "When it's really windy, wet, cold like that you're going to have to take extra effort to catch the ball. The small things you can't take for granted. Everything becomes more difficult."
One reader wanted to know if Weatherford took much ribbing from family, friends or teammates about his jubilant post NFC Championship Game celebration, which we all know included some colorful language. Weatherford said his teammates weren't surprised.
"That's just me," Weatherford said. "For the fans I think that was their first real opportunity to see me up close and personal. I think that was G-Men Nation's first time to really see who I was."
I asked Weatherford, again at reader request, about running with the ball, something he has done five times in his career and admits to loving.
"I love to run with the ball. Maybe I should get permission more often," Weatherford joked.
His one try last season ended in failure, as did one in 2010 with the Jets.
"Sometimes it's just ... I see something and I go," Weatherford said. "Tom Coughlin doesn't really get down like that, so I learned my lesson."
Weatherford averaged 45.7 yards per punt last season, the best of his career and more than three yards per punt better than he did in his two seasons as a member of the New York Jets. In answering a question about why that happened, Weatherford took a thinly-veiled -- or maybe not veiled at all -- shot at Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff.
"A lot of it had to do with my special teams coach," Weatherford said. "The game plan hasn't changed at all, but Tom Quinn has really allowed me to do what I need to do to be ready for Sundays. He doesn't press me real hard during the week.
"I think maybe overtraining had been a problem for me. The coach that I had with the Jets [Westhoff] asked too much of me during the week. He wanted me to kick too much, and too often. Later in the season when you get to December and January and the playoffs where you need to feel fresh and strong I had no leg left."
Finally, I asked Weatherford how much his life has changed since he came to the Giants last season.
"The last 12 months have been unbelievable," said Weatherford, who admitted pursuing signing with the Giants at the recommendation of long-time NFL placekicker John Carney, who kicked with New York in 2008. Weatherford said that, taking Carney's advice, he had his agent approach the Giants to try to work out a deal.
"Since that's happened it's been unbelievable experience after unbelievable experience. From going to the playoffs to making it to the Super Bowl to winning the Super Bowl to getting the franchise tag to getting the five-year deal done, it's just getting better and better," Weatherford said. "I'm looking forward to building off what we did last year because that was a lot of fun."