Sept. 4, 2015, will always rank among the worst days of Steve Weatherford's life. That's when he was cut from the Giants after four seasons, a Super Bowl ring and countless memories with the team.
He also says it was one of the best days of his life.
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Less than a week after the Giants made the difficult decision to release him, Weatherford remains extremely grateful to the organization.
He was one of the more well-loved players by Giants coaches and fans because of his enthusiasm and community service work. Coach Tom Coughlin made his appreciation for Weatherford evident to everyone on the day the team cut him, calling the 32-year-old "an exceptional, exceptional human being."
Weatherford said those words -- and everything else Giants officials said that day -- resonated with him.
"The relationship that I had and I have with coach Tom Coughlin . . . means the world to me," Weatherford told Newsday in a phone interview Thursday. "He was a man that I looked up to before I ever had the opportunity to play for him. And then he didn't disappoint. He was everything I hoped he would be and more."
Weatherford said Coughlin, general manager Jerry Reese and owner John Mara met with him before the move and echoed how highly they thought of him, and then some.
"John Mara told me that he thinks I'm one of the greatest Giants of all time, and the reason, he said, was nothing to do with football," Weatherford said. "A compliment like that, to tell me I'm one of the greatest Giants of all time and it doesn't have anything to do with football, that means so much more to me."
Weatherford averaged 46.3 yards per punt in his four seasons with the Giants, and has a 44.5-yard career average. He finished the preseason with an average net of 45.0 yards on 16 punts. Some problems with directional punting and Weatherford's salary-cap numbers for 2015 and 2016 ($2.175 million and $2.325 million, according to NFLPA records) led to his release.
"When you get a phone call from the Giants' front office at a certain time, that means it's time to come in and face the music," Weatherford said. "So yeah, I certainly knew when I got the phone call on Friday morning what it was regarding."
Weatherford has spent the last few days with his family and continuing his various community events in the area -- including one Wednesday in Jersey City, where he spent $2,500 of his own money on shoes for children in need.
He believes that "my best days are ahead of me" no matter where the road may take him, whether it's football, family, TV, radio, fitness or simply encouraging and helping others to reach their own potential.
"I'm really excited because I've been praying for guidance that God will make my decision of what to do next very, very clear," he said.
Weatherford said he will always be thankful to the Giants for everything that happened in the last four seasons.
"It doesn't matter where I go or what I do and who I'm doing it for," he said. "I'm always going to be a Giant."