Steve Weatherford is not your typical punter. Just one look at the guy proves that.
He’s absolutely jacked—I’m talking muscles stacked on top of muscles so numerous you could build a house with them.
His behemoth biceps bulging from his shirt were the first thing I noticed about him when I ventured to one of his life coaching sessions at the West Side Recreation Center in Newark a few weeks ago.
The second thing that caught my eye: the bright, white, vibrant statement emblazoned across his shirt in all capital letters: KING.
The third was the contagious energy that encircled the room as he spoke. None of the words Weatherford—who played 10 years in the NFL for both the Giants and Jets, among others—used were used without purpose, and just as a skilled punter must rifle off a well-placed kick to pit opponents in uncomfortable territory, Weatherford methodically aimed his message directly into the hearts and heads of his listeners with one goal in mind: to call them up.
The room—comprised mostly of high school aged students and a few of their parents—sat wide-eyed and even wider-eared, absorbing each sentence as if it were a droplet of tangible wisdom.
It was clear that Weatherford believed something special existed inside each one of his listeners.
His life accolades are bountiful. He’s a Super Bowl champion, a feat he amassed as a member of the New York Giants in 2011-12. He was a standout decathlon athlete in high school and college, competing, and excelling in events like the high jump, 60-meter dash and shot put.
He won the “NFL’s Fittest Man” award in 2014 (no surprise) from Muscle and Fitness. He graduated from the NFL’s Broadcast Bootcamp in 2013, and has gone on to hold substitute reporting positions with Sports Illustrated, Good Day New York and ESPN. And after he hung up his cleats in 2015, he embarked on several more meaningful causes, establishing charities, leading a number of health and fitness programs, and even serving as spokesperson for the Breast Cancer Research foundation, Second Chance Toys and the Steve Weatherford Charity for Ghana.
But despite the gaudy resume, Weatherford sees himself as a fellow human being to his peers—nothing more, nothing less. In fact, he told members of the audience that he saw himself in each andevery one of them.
Weatherford was born in Indiana in 1982 and moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at age two, before his family, which included a brother and sister, ventured back to his birth state at 14. There, he attended Terre Haute North Vigo High School in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he lettered in football, track, basketball and soccer.
He set several school records as a punter and placekicker at the school (including most field goals made and longest FG at 55 yards), earning two straight all-state honors.
The noteworthy accomplishments netted Weatherford division-one offers by the plenty, and although he could’ve opted for a school rich in football tradition and lore, he chose to stay close to home, enrolling at nearby Illinois.
A redshirt player during his freshman year, Weatherford quickly rose up the positional ranks for the Fighting Illini, receiving the starting punter’s role in his first year of eligibility, and skyrocketing his way to a Big-10 Honorable Mention the next season.
All the while, he was etching his name into the school’s heptathlon record books as well.
He was a first-team All-Big-10 member his junior year, and by his senior campaign, Weatherford was a consensus candidate as one of the top punters in the nation. He finished his Illinois career as the university’s all-time leader in punting average (43.6 yards per punt).
His historic career wasn’t enough to net a selection in the 2006 draft, but interested suitors converged soon after with desires for his services. And by the will of fate, or perhaps a brush of luck (his first NFL squad’s special teams’ coach was Weatherford’s own during his four-year run with the Illini), the small-town kid was back in the Big Easy after signing an undrafted free agent’s deal with the Saints.
He’d play for four more NFL teams before calling it quits: the Jets (twice), Jaguars, Chiefs and Giants—whom he won Super Bowl XLVI with.
Weatherford hauled in a surplus of $20 million over the course of his pro career. But, he says, nothing is comparable in value to the work he gets to do now.
“Every single significant thing that I’ve done in my life, I’ve had a coach or a mentor who has helped me to learn the skill, to practice the skill, to adjust the skill, to turn the skill into a career, to turn the career into a calling,” Weatherford told me.
“Not just as an athlete, I had a business coach, I’ve had a finance coach. I had coaches for flexibility, I had coaches for punting, performance training, nutritionists. I just became really obsessed and inspired with my own personal evolution, and then how do I leverage what I’ve experienced, what I’ve learned and been taught to then do the same thing for other people.”
Weatherford, who now heads a brand titled “CEO of Your Life” a wellness and positivity program sponsored by Kings Council coaching, says his mission is to help people, no matter what walk of life they come from.
“It could be husbands, wives, it could be entrepreneurs or people who want to be an entrepreneur, men, women, to be able to create the structure, the strategy and action plan to get from where they’re at now—physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially—to where they believe they’re capable of being.
“There’s an old African proverb that says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’”
For those who do envision more for themselves than their current standing, Weatherford has a special message:
“I think it begins with you spending some quiet time with yourself and thinking, ‘What do I really want, who do I need to become to be able to get it?’”
“And also understanding for yourself, success is never somewhere that you arrive, success is something that you become. Life is the becoming, not the destination. If you always told yourself, ‘I’ll be happy when I get a million dollars, or when I win a Super Bowl, or when I’m the fittest man in the NFL,’ it’s just a trick that you play against yourself and a game that you can’t win.
“When you work from a place of victory instead of for victory, I believe you’re undefeated in life, and no matter what happens you’re either going to win or you’re going to learn,” he says.
Weatherford is a clear and consummate picture of victory, in every sense of the word. He’s accomplished innumerable achievements for a man who hasn’t even crossed the 40 threshold yet. But while he could continue to seek out more for personal satisfaction, his aura reeks of pure contentment.
Now, Weatherford is embarking on his own version of a spirited victory lap. He’s living the home life with his wife, Laura, and three children. He’s traveling. He’s engaging in philanthropy. And of course, he’s still working out.
As for his current state of mind, Weatherford’s response was simple.
“It’s great to be back in New Jersey.”