Had the chance to finally catch Wes Welker‘s A Football Life and as expected it was a really good one. Unfortunately the biggest thing it left me with was feeling sad about how things ended for Welker in New England and how many Patriots fans can’t bring Welker up without mentioning that play in Super Bowl 46.
That play was a significant part of this episode and it was heartbreaking to hear how badly it affected Welker and how hard it was for him to get over it. That play overshadowed what was a remarkable career by a player who redefined a position in the NFL. Seeing Welker circa 2007 and remembering how much I loved watching him play back then was a nice reminder of what a beloved player he was early in his Patriot days.
The episode was a great tale of how Welker was always overlooked in high school and college despite being described by his coaches as a perfect football player who could do anything. Welker overcame so much to get to New England and that should be that part of his story we embrace far more than one play in one game, even it was a Super Bowl.
It’s hard to fathom that Welker missed just four games during his six seasons in New England, including the infamous 2009 AFC Wild Card loss to the Ravens. Without Welker the already-flawed Patriots were dead in the water and they seemed like they knew it right out of the gate.
Welker bounced back from tearing his ACL in 2009, but really that signaled the start of the descent. There was the “foot” press conference before the 2010 AFC Divisional loss to the Jets that got him benched for the first series by Belichick. Again, Welker’s absence, although for just a series, seemed to set the tone from the outset.
He bounced back in 2011 and his second-best receiving totals of his career, but of course that just led to the infamous drop in Super Bowl 46. From there Welker’s drops doubled from five in 2011 to 10 in 2012 and Welker commented that Belichick was in his head about those. The drops, combined with never getting the contract extension he thought he deserved and having to play under the franchise tag, left a frustrating undertone to the 2012 season.
The Patriots did offer him a two-year deal to remain in New England, but when Welker countered with what the Broncos had offered him the Patriots had already moved on.
Welker’s Patriots career was electric for those first three seasons, one of which was played with Matt Cassel, until the torn ACL in the season finale, in a game where Belichick was recorded in his own Football Life episode mentioning the team should get Wes out of there to protect him.
The Super Bowl 46 drop will always be part of Welker’s legacy but at some point I hope fans can appreciate everything else that he did for the franchise. All the huge hits he took where he held on, and maybe give him some credit for his would’ve-been Super Bowl MVP performance in Super Bowl 42. It’s strange to think one defensive stop is all that stands between Welker being a three-time Super Bowl loser and a forever Patriot hero who capped a perfect 19-0 season.
He’ll always be a huge part of Patriots history and hopefully at some point his time to be in the Patriots Hall of Fame will come and we can celebrate his fantastic career and what a unique and inspirational player he really was.