INDIANAPOLIS -- When it became evident last offseason the Chicago Bears were prepared to move on without veteran punter Brad Maynard, the first name to emerge as a potential replacement was New York Jets free agent and University of Illinois product Steve Weatherford.
But when free agency kicked off after the NFL lockout ended, the Bears went in a different direction and signed Adam Podlesh, while Weatherford stayed in New York to punt and hold for the Giants.
"I'm good friends with [Bears kicker] Robbie Gould, and I had heard some rumors [that I was headed to the Bears]," Weatherford said Wednesday during Super Bowl XLVI media availability. "During the lockout, there was a lot of dead time for (the media), so there were a lot of stories that were kind of materialized out of nothing. To be honest with you, I didn't pay much attention to it. I had no idea what was going to go on in free agency, but I'm sure glad I landed here."
And the Bears are happy to have landed Podlesh, who made a seamless transition from kicking in relatively warm Jacksonville to cold Chicago. Weatherford posted career highs in average yards per punt (45.7) and net average (39.2), and made a clutch save on a bad snap for place kicker Lawrence Tynes in the NFC Championship Game.
It turned out to be a win-win situation for both franchises.
"Adam is a good friend of mine, and I was really happy to see him sign a multi-year deal up there," Weatherford said. "But I'm happier for me that I get to play in the Super Bowl."