“Yeah, it’s kind of nice to stick it in [coach] Bill’s [Belichick's] face once in a while,” said Welker with a wink and a smile. “So this is definitely a good one.”
I beg to differ, Mr. Welker. That this has become a “bona fide” news story with any sort of traction is a truly awful joke.
If you solely read the quote Welker provided, it seems like there may in fact be some ongoing tension between last year’s leading receiver and New England’s coaching mastermind. I know I was initially suckered into reading the story by an article title simply stating Welker’s postgame quote. It’s understandable, especially in light of all the offseason drama surrounding the nonexistent contract extension. Stud tight end duo Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Henandez both received lucrative contract extensions after jus two years in the league, while Welker has to play out a one year contract from receiving the Patriots franchise tag in the offseason. It’s hard to imagine a man making $9 million holding a grudge, but in the NFL players’ careers can end in one busted ACL or bone-crunching hit, and contracts are largely unguaranteed. Add in the long term consequences from concussions, and it’s almost a story that writes itself.
That is, unless you watch the video, or even read the words “with a wink and a smile.” (Or just look at his outfit – seriously, what is that vest he’s wearing? Did he just come back from a fishing trip?) It’s impossible not to realize how firmly his tongue was planted in his cheek, like a dagger in the back of anyone the Boston Red Sox ship out of town. (Unless, of course, you think he got grapefruit pulp in his eye a la George Costanza.) Yet there was the media wondering whether Welker meant what he said seriously, and asking Coach Belichick if he had any reaction to Welker’s comment. And in a sad moment for comedians everywhere, Welker was forced to make th following clarifying statement:
“It was a joke,” Welker said. “I don’t know what else to say about it. It was a joke. Bill and I, whether you believe it or not, have a good relationship, and it was a joke. I’ll make sure to keep that in-house moving forward.”
The whole episode leaves me wondering which is sadder: that Welker had to repeat the phrase “it was a joke” three times over just to make sure he was clear enough, that now the already rare moments of humor and candor out of the Patriots locker room have been fully deflated faster than a football at the end of a Gronk celebratory spike, or that I lent credence to the whole media shenanigans just by responding with this article.