Steve Weatherford’s Abs Don’t Give Him a Leg Up

By Katie Peverada, Skidmore Alum Class of 2014 Steve Weatherford / Photo by New York Post

My friends and I long ago discovered the physical specimen that is Steve Weatherford. Way back in January of 2012, as the Giants and Patriots were about to square off in the Super Bowl, we ogled over his abs. After we got over our initial fascination, our main rumination was: “Wow. For a kicker, he sure is jacked.” Had he been a receiver or running back, it wouldn’t have amazed us as much. One Monday night this past NFL season, during one of Rick Reilly’s weekly segments on ESPN’s pregame show, Weatherford was the subject of the interview, and he gave us an inside look at his workout routine and habits. Weatherford’s habits include lifting every day, which is fine. But they also include extremely eccentric practices such as regularly sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber, which is a bit much. It got me thinking, though. Sure, Weatherford has the title of most aesthetically pleasing punter in the NFL, but where does he rank in terms of performance? In other words, do his practices warrant acclaim on the field, or are his less-physically-refined fellow punters just as accomplished? In his eight full seasons in the NFL, Weatherford has cracked the top 10 in yards per punt only twice. In 2012, he was ninth, with an average of 47.5 yards per punt, and his 46.9 average in 2013 put him seventh. Weatherford has kicked one of the top 10 longest punts of the year only three times. A 66-yarder in 2007 put him seventh, a 68-yarder in 2012 put him ninth, and in 2013 he was 10th with another 68-yard punt. His career long punt of 71 yards came this year in week six against Philadelphia, which puts him in a four-way tie for seventh. A punter that is—somewhat—physically the opposite of Weatherford is Shane Lechler, who is 6’6”, 225lbs (Obviously as a professional football player he has some semblance of a workout routine, but as best I can tell he doesn’t go as far as sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber or taking over 30 vitamins a day). Lechler, who spent his first 13 seasons with Oakland before going to Houston in 2013, has better numbers than Weatherford. Lechler has a career average of 47.6 yards per punt, which is more than three yards further than Weatherford’s 44.4, and his career long punt of 80 yards is nine yards more than Weatherford’s. Lechler has punted the ball at least 70 yards in seven of his 15 seasons, while Weatherford has done that only once. uses a metric called “Approximate Value” to try to assign the value of a player’s season (it’s obviously difficult to have a WAR statistic like in baseball, but this is somewhat similar). The highest AV that Weatherford has ever achieved in a season is three, which he did in 2012 and 2013. Lechler, on the other hand, achieved a six in 2009, and has earned a five on three occasions and a four in six seasons. And that top 10 in yards per punt that Weatherford has only reached twice? Lechler has led the league four times, is the career active leader, and only missed that list once, in 2012. And he still manages to look not ripped. Weatherford isn’t a bad punter by any means, but his obsession and pride of working out so much and taking such meticulous care of his body is not producing the results. His effort isn’t giving him a leg up on the competition.

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