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Friday, March 16, 2012
Giants know the value of a punter

By Dan Graziano

Did you know that the last time DeSean Jackson ran back a punt for a touchdown was Dec. 19, 2010? New York Giants fans remember the day, and while this past year's Super Bowl title helped erase some of the painful memories of a 2010 season stolen in an eyeblink, the Giants do, too. Last summer, they replaced Matt Dodge, the punter responsible for kicking that ball to Jackson, with Steve Weatherford, who went on to deliver the best Conference Championship Game/Super Bowl exacta by a punter in recent memory.

The Giants designated Weatherford their franchise player last week, and they did so according to the spirit of the franchise player rule -- because they were determined to work out a long-term contract with him and needed more time. As Ohm Youngmisuk reports, the Giants and Weatherford agreed Friday on a five-year contract that keeps the reliable Weatherford in blue, and makes sure punter doesn't have to be a concern for the defending champs this year.

Yeah, it's a punter contract. But (a) the Giants are having a pretty quiet week, so this qualifies as big Giants news, and (b) everybody's welcome to laugh at the importance of punting if they want. But you couldn't watch the Giants' playoff run and fail to understand the role Weatherford played in it. A stunning, nearly flawless performance in San Francisco in an NFC Championship Game that was decided by special teams in crummy weather. And three Super Bowl punts that stuck the Patriots inside their own 10-yard line. That's about the opposite of Dec. 19, 2010, and that was the point of getting Weatherford all along. He is hereby rewarded for meeting or exceeding all expectations.