Those evil, evil Patriots. They're at it again.
On the cover of this week's edition of Sports Illustrated is everyone's favorite forehead, Peyton Manning, along with his three receivers Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, and Wes Welker. Together, they comprise what is probably the best receiving unit in the NFL, and with Manning throwing them the ball, Denver is a serious Super Bowl contender this year. And while the article in its entirety was really more about the Broncos as a team, with interviews being given to both Manning and Welker, it seems that the only comments anyone is paying any attention to are ones that could potentially paint Bill Belichick and the Patriots in a negative light. What a shocker.
The highlight of almost every sports media outlet is the following quote from Welker, when asked about what it's like to play for coach Belichick:
"It was just kind of hard...one of those deals where you have to endure him, put up with him. . . .But he does it to everybody, it’s the way he is."
Another popular quote that has been mined from the article is this one:
"When I’m answering questions from the Denver media, I’m not worried about what the Broncos’ people are going to think. I’m worried about what Belichick will think. Isn’t that crazy?"
Now there are two ways to look at these quotes, as usual taken out of context with little to no reference to the articles as a whole. The first - and most popular - way to interpret Welker's comments is that Bill Belichik, evil genius and supervillain extraordinaire, is 100% responsible for Welker's departure from the Pats. If it wasn't for the bullying, overbearing, pretentious jerk known to some as The Hooded One, Welker would be catching 100+ passes from Tom Brady this year instead of Manning. Welker had just had enough of playing for such a militant and belligerent coach, and so he departed for greener pastures. After all, there is only so much abuse, neglect, and derision one man can take before he has to start getting concerned about his mental health and it's time to move on. The fact that a Patriots player isn't committed to Shady Pines Home for the Mentally Disturbed once a week is nothing short of a miracle. NFL.com seems to think so in this article, the Boston Globe seems to think so in this article, and The USA Today seems to think so in this article. I could go on.
However, what you may not find on the internet without looking long and hard is what I think the article, in particular the Wes Welker portion of it, really says about his relationship with the Patriots and with Bill Belichick. In my humble opinion, there is absolutely nothing in what Wes Welker said that in any way represents something new, different, or derogatory about the way Bill Belichick runs his team. I don't think that one word came out of his mouth that we didn't already know, and I personally am having a hard time figuring out how this article somehow represents a massive and irrevocable falling out between Welker and the Patriots. What I personally interpret Welker's words to be is that Bill Belichick is a hard coach to play for. He expects the absolute best out of you 100% of the time, and if you only give it to him 99.99% of the time, he's going to absolutely let you have it in front of the entire team and make you look and feel foolish. He doesn't care what your name is, what your stats are, or how much money you are getting paid. Every single New England Patriot is held equally accountable, and if you don't like coming to a place where winning will never take a backseat to coddling and ego boosting, then you know where the door is. If you don't want to get called out in front of the whole team, don't give him reason to do so. If you're worried about what Belichick is going to say to you if you step out of line, don't step out of line.It really couldn't be more simple: do your job. If you don't, get ready to catch hell. Is this suddenly new information?
Welker isn't the only one who got chewed out by Belichick; he said so himself. Belichick has worked very, very hard to assemble a team culture in which every single member is held accountable, starting with himself and trickling all the way down to whoever the poor soul is that's in charge of washing jock straps. It may not be the most cozy and media-friendly way of building a team, but the results are hard to ignore. If there was any kind of falling out between Welker and the team, I can assure you if wasn't because of Belichick's coaching style; any animosity Welker may have towards the franchise likely stems from the fact that they thought he was at the point in his career where he was disposable, and young receiver Danny Amendola represented an upgrade. I can totally see how Welker might still be a little sore at Belichick and the New England organization as a whole. But absolutely nothing he said here or anywhere else in that article has led me to believe that Welker hates Belichick or that any Patriots fan who is currently badmouthing him has any real reason to do so.
I just hope that Tommy B doesn't have a single bad game this season. I can handle articles like this, but if I have to come on here and talk about an article saying that Tom Brady is losing his edge and it's time to start Tim Tebow, heads are going to roll.