During his long NFL career, Mike Westhoff has become known as both a respected special-teams coach and football's crankiest old man.
|Steve Weatherford is happy his first Super Bowl appearance has come with the Giants, not the Jets. (David J. Phillip/Associated Press)|
The Westhoff Experience was on shining display last season in HBO's "Hard Knocks" series, but not everyone approves of his famous brand of tough love. That includes Giants punter Steve Weatherford, who credits his strong performance during this Super Bowl season in part to getting away from Westhoff.
"I think a lot of (my improvement) has to do with playing for Tom Quinn and being comfortable and being confident and being strong," Weatherford said of the Giants' special-teams coordinator, according to Newsday. "Playing for the Jets and playing for that positional coach was draining, difficult and physically taxing."
The Jets opted not to bring Weatherford back after last season. Westhoff noted during training camp that Weatherford "wasn't good enough" to punt by the end of the season. Weatherford kicked very poorly for the Jets during the postseason, although he did set an NFL record for punts inside the 20-yard line during the regular season.
As motivation, Weatherford has kept a newspaper clipping of Westhoff's diss hanging in his locker. Weatherford had the underrated play of the Giants' season Sunday night, expertly handling a low snap from Zak DeOssie on Lawrence Tynes' game-winning field goal in overtime of the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers.
To Tynes, the diss was an example of Westhoff, 64, taking his cranky old man act one step too far.
"That's the worst statement of the year by any coach in this game," Tynes said. "That guy, how could you say that? He just broke an NFL record for your team and you throw him under the bus. We're glad to have him. Mike Westhoff is a great coach, but I certainly think he missed on that one."