Wes Welker is Funny
12:00 PM EST on January 26, 2011
My grandpa has a signed photo of Wes Welker hanging on his wall. He got it when Welker showed up at his nursing home to visit his grandmother, and now it has just as much prominence in his room as pictures of his family. The significance of this information is that the presence of this picture means that every time I visit my grandpa, I get to hear about how all the state schools screwed up by not recruiting Wes Welker.
In retrospect, this is absolutely true. He was Mike Leach's best weapon while at Texas Tech, then after being undrafted he latched on in the NFL and eventually became Tom Brady's favorite target. Over the past four seasons, Welker has caught north of 100 passes for better than 1,000 yards in three of them, including the 2009 season where he missed two games with a torn ACL.
Of course, retrospect only magnifies the mistake that was clear at the time. Welker dominated the state at Heritage Hall despite being a soccer player that Coach Andy Bogart convinced to try out football (mainly to be the kicker). He was ignored by major colleges for the same reason OU neglected to offer Barry Sanders a scholarship (both are only 5'9") and for the reason most white guys at skill positions that do not start with Q are ignored (lack of pigmentation=lack of athleticism). I just know that when he was leading the Chargers to an undefeated state championship that ended with me watching him in Stillwater, I assumed the reason he wasn't on OSU's commitment list was that he wanted to play out of state.
Due to his success in spite of low expectations, most football analysts look for ways to explain how he proved them wrong. Since admitting that prejudices made them overlook that he is a naturally gifted athlete who is faster and stronger than most of his counterparters is out of the question, Welker has become the posterchild for the scrappy, gym rat. While I think this is mostly racial stereotyping, a recent press conference by Welker proves that he really is quite disciplined.
In the lead up to the Patriots/Jets first round playoff game, the Jets were trying to incite the Pats into a war of words through the press. New York cornerback Darrell Revis used a bunch of profanity in complaining about Tom Brady and even their coach, Rex Ryan, called the game "personal." New England, however, was instructed not to respond...except that Wes Welker kind of did.
If you told me that Welker's turn in front of the press was scripted by Saturday Night Live, I would not be surprised. Taking questions for about nine minutes, the all pro receiver made use of the word "toe" or "foot" on eleven occasions--not including when he said "football" and may have emphasized the first part of the compound word.
For the uninformed observer, that probably seems like just a strange coincidence. A couple of weeks before the game, though, Deadspin reported on what appeared to be the Jets' coach's wife starring in internet foot fetish films. There was even some evidence that Rex Ryan had participated in some of the efforts. The coach's resistance to discuss the issue--rather than deny it--means it is probably true.
So, watching Welker casually discussing how the team can't just "dip [their] toe in the water" or how a player has "great feet" had much more meaning. The best part is how he is obviously making fun of Ryan, but he never cracks a smile or betrays that he is alluding to the foot fetishist. This is all improv, too, because watching the full video, he is still giving well thought out answers to those asking the questions while imbedding barbs toward the Jets. It's quite brilliant.
Of course, yesterday news came out that Welker now regrets the gag. He is probably the only one.