Just what was behind the verbal swipe Bill Belichick took at Wes Welker, his former wide receiver, on Monday over a hit by Welker that knocked Aqib Talib of the New England Patriots out of AFC championship game against the Denver Broncos?
Well, a fair amount of dislike, if not outright hatred. That’s what. The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy describes it in bold terms:
We know for sure now that Bill Belichick hates Wes Welker with the power of 1,000 suns. Belichick blames Welker for dropping a pass that cost him a Super Bowl ring two years ago. He didn’t like Welker’s foot jokes about Rex Ryan and he didn’t like Welker saying, “It’s always nice to stick it in Bill’s face.’’
He didn’t push to keep Welker here after last season. He and his bosses set a “value” for Welker’s position, let him walk, rejoiced when their market evaluation proved correct, then charged the Kraft family’s sizable media cartel with the task of selling the decision as a sound “football” move. They gave Welker’s money to Danny Amendola and effectively gave Welker’s job to Julian Edelman.
It was all working out pretty well when Welker messed up a punt play that enabled the Patriots to complete their amazing 34-31 comeback victory at Gillette Stadium in November.
But Sunday at Mile High was a disaster for the Patriot plan. The myth of the Patriots’ brilliance and greatness had fooled a lot of folks into believing that a depleted, quite ordinary team was going back to the Super Bowl.
But then the game started, and it was obvious. Tom Brady had no one to throw the ball to.
That’s why the Patriots coach stood on a podium Monday and refused to say Welker’s name and said there was “a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib. No attempt to get open. I’ll let the league handle the discipline on that play.”
Welker took Talib out on a “pick” or “rub” play, the kind receivers make all the time to look for an advantage in the middle of the field, which is often crowded.
“We’re not the only team by any stretch,” Broncos Coach John Fox said later Monday. “In fact, I think our opponents Sunday did the same thing.”