The NFL’s Steve Weatherford: Super Fitness Role Model and Super Dad Role Model
I sought out Steve Weatherford, longtime New York Giants punter, for a celebrity appearance at my New Jersey camera store last June. He was a great choice for our photography education program, since he was the self-proclaimed, “selfie king” of the NFL. Ironically and just as immodestly, I refer to myself by that same title in the photo industry. We both use the selfie as a technique for self-promotion. If you visit either of our social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook (msweetwood.com & weatherford5.com), you’ll see exactly what I am referring to.
We conducted a photography workshop in front of a packed house called “The Art of The Selfie”. What I didn’t anticipate was that our discussion in front of the class would turn into a conversation about the most important thing in both of our lives – fatherhood. Steve is a devoted father of 4 young children (ages 8, 6, 3, and 8 months) and I am the single-dad of 5 adult children (all in their 20’s). Steve and I enjoyed our fatherhood discussion so much that we agreed to have a future chat on the subject. We made that happen as soon as he got some free time after NFL training camp.
We met at Steve’s New Jersey suburban home. It’s about 20 minutes from where the Giants play in East Rutherford. I got there when Steve was driving up with his wife and family in his big SUV. I immediately had a flashback to about 20 years ago when I use to drive around in an 8-seat, Chevy Suburban, with all five of mine and nanny in tow. I watched Steve adoringly take care of his beautiful family as I set up the video for the interview. It was plain to see he’s an all-pro dad.
Our captivating discussion covered a wide range of issues, including the use of social media, fatherhood, work-life balance, the NFL’s attitude towards fatherhood, and his future plans.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Matt: When you were younger did you imagine you would have 4 kids?
Steve: I did. One of the first visions I had for my life, before I thought about playing in the NFL, was that I always wanted to be a dad.
Matt: Do you find that NFL players are better parents that others?
Steve: On the whole, were not as good parents. In order to be the best in the world at something…you have to be selfish.
Matt: So you think life-balance makes you a better father?
Steve: 100% – The time that I am there, I am actually there. If I am with my kids, I am with them…
Matt: How do you feel being a father has changed you?
Steve: Innately I am very selfish. That has benefited me in professional sport… it has helped me bring my character flaw of being selfish and bring it down… I have found a happy medium and still being the fittest man in the NFL and still being a great dad.
Matt: Do you do charity work?
Steve: I have my own foundation… There are a lot of kids out there that I have contact with that don’t have Dads. I identify a school that is underprivileged and take 25 kids shopping for shoes – it’s about spending time with them and helping them set goals.
Matt: Do you think there are any changes the NFL could make to facilitate players to be better dads?
Steve: No. The bottom line is the money. The NFL is trying to make the season longer… trim the pre-seasons to 2 games and add 2 onto the regular season… They are not even thinking about the athlete’s bodies let alone their families.
Matt: What are some of the constructive things you like to do with your kids?
Steve: Two things that have become a family tradition for us: Friday is family fun night – board games, karaoke and it turns into dance party. The other tradition is at least one per month I take each kid out individually. I shoot baskets or throw the football with my only son and I put on a suit and tie and take my daughters out on a daddy date night. There are so many things only a dad can give their daughters.
Matt: Why don’t we worry about our sons as much?
Steve: If there is one characteristic I could give my son it would be my relentless work ethic. There are so many things that can be achieved in life with hard work. Compared to other pro athletes, I had marginal athleticism and maximum work ethic.
Matt: I think that a lot of young men run away from fatherhood because they see it as a bad thing – a responsibility with little reward. Do you agree?
Steve: Yeah, It’s piece of you. When they are born, God is blessing you with a lump of clay and you can form and shape that in any way you see fit. There is nothing that you will ever do that’s ever going to complete you and give you more life fulfillment…
Matt: What will Steve Weatherford be doing in 10 years from now?
Steve: I will be working in media, hopefully my own TV show with an emphasis in health and fitness.
Matt: Do you want your son to go to Ohio State and play D-1 football or do you want him to go Harvard?
Steve: Harvard, 100%. I am not going let my son play football until he’s 16 years old because I want his body to be developed… I played long enough to see football claim the lives of two of my very, very close friends: one was Junior Seau and another one was a college teammate…
You can watch the full interview here (The focus issue disappears shortly into the video):