INDIANAPOLIS | Steve Weatherford, like every member of the Giants, has been busy this Super Bowl week. Between press conferences, practices and team meetings, there's hardly time to grab lunch with teammates or step outside the team hotel.
Given a rare afternoon off, Weatherford, who was born in Crown Point, chose not to relax in Indianapolis, but to make the hour-long drive to Terre Haute, the place he attended high school and became a football star.
Weatherford travels home just a handful of times each year, yet he makes sure to help out with the community that helped raise him. He talked with reporters about his efforts.
Q: You regularly ship teammates' old cleats and gym shoes back home to kids in Terre Haute. Why do that?
A: A lot of guys will wear tennis shoes or cleats two or three times then throw them out if they get muddy or whatever, so what I just kind of dust them off and send them back home. It's not like we wear cheap, trashy cleats. These are $150 a pair and guys will wear them three times and throw them out. There's a lot of people, a lot of kids who will go to football practice in tennis shoes, don't even have cleats.
We just ship them from work, from the locker room. I'll just fill up a bin of a hundred cleats and send them home.
Q: Do you know how many shoes you've sent them over the years?
A: I approximated it at probably 500 tennis shoes and cleats. I ship three or four shipments a year and it's usually 50 to 100 shoes, and I've been doing it for three years.
Q: Why take the time to do it?
A: Obviously it's important to me because I go to the trouble of asking everybody, hey, do you want those? Everybody knows why I do it. The first time I did it I had to explain myself, that I'm not selling them on eBay. But yeah, to be able to help so many children, so many people in need, and it only costs me 20 minutes out of my day maybe once a month during the football season — it's worth it.
Q: Do you ever send your own used gear?
A: For me, my cleats, I go through about three pair a year, so every time I'm done with a pair of cleats I'll sign them and send them home for United Way auctions or Boys Club auctions, stuff like that. Back home they usually make a couple hundred bucks to help the Boys Club. I try to be as generous as possible, but at the same time I'm not going to give away a pair of cleats that I need.
Q: Do you ever hear from the kids who get the shoes?
A: I do, usually they're not thank-you notes as much as they are crayon drawings. My fridge at home is decorated with like, "Go Giants" pictures. Some of those kids aren't big enough to wear the cleats, but the fact they have a pair of Justin Tuck's cleats, they keep them like a trophy.