Photo: Marianne O'Leary
The superintendent of the Vigo County School Corporation admits he is trying to rig a vote for who the National Football Conference’s starting punter will be in pro football’s equivalent of the all-star game.
VCSC Superintendent Danny Tanoos is encouraging students to vote for Terre Haute native and New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford to be the first-string punter in the Pro Bowl, which will be played in January.
It is tough to quantify how good a punter is, which is why there are so few of them in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But Lynn Howser, a longtime sportswriter and President of the Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame, says there are a couple stats to turn to.
“If you see somebody averaging almost 50 yards a kick, that’s a weapon,” Howser says. “And you would also look at how many kicks are returned.”
Weatherford is seventh in the conference in yards per kick, and only one NFC punter sees more of his kicks get returned. So, based on statistics, is Weatherford the most deserving punter and should kids in the Vigo County Schools be encouraged to vote for him?
“I don’t believe your question makes sense to me, actually. You’ve said something that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” says Tanoos, who is a close personal friend of Weatherford’s. He says the vote is more to recognize the punter’s many charitable efforts in his hometown.
Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett says he has cast his vote for Weatherford, and likens the Pro Bowl voting to the Miss America pageant.
“If you’re a popular person, you can get elected,” Bennett says. “You may not be the right person, but if you’re popular and people back you, then they want you in there. So in this particular case, I think it falls more along those lines than who the best player is.”
New Orleans Saints punter Thomas Morstead, who leads the conference at exactly 50 yards per kick, has so far received the most votes.