On Wes Welker‘s hit on Aqib Talib in the AFC championship game: “The ball was in the air. I know Wes. I’ve seen Wes avoid those guys a thousand times in practice, in the games. I’ve seen him kind of stutter his feet, get those guys to stutter [their] feet, accomplish his goal on that pick/rub route and then avoid contact. Well, I’m not saying anybody told Wes to go do that, but I firmly believe that was just a warning shot. Wes is one of the toughest players I’ve ever been around in my life. And I just firmly believe Wes is thinking, ‘We take Aqib out, or we just get him to slow down, we win this game.’
“I said that going in, we asked the question that week before the AFC championship game: Anybody more important than these two quarterbacks? I’m like, ‘Yeah, Aqib Talib.’ You lose him, your whole defensive plan goes out the window. And we saw it. You go back to Baltimore last year. He goes down, Joe Flacco looks like Joe Montana. But before, there was nothing there.”
On if Welker, coming off two concussions, would put himself in harm’s way: “We could always find bigger, stronger guys, but if I was going to sit down here and try to find tougher guys that I’ve played with in my 10 years, I’d be hard-pressed to find tougher guys [than Welker]. I know Wes, he’s smart, he’ll do anything for a team. He doesn’t have to be coached on it. He’ll find it himself.
“You hate to judge intent. Like I said, I’ve seen that same play a thousand times. And I’ve seen Wes avoid greater athletes and bigger defenders. And yet, you see that right shoulder go down. You see him maybe try to slip or maybe try to put that shoulder right into it. Did he know he was going to hurt him? No. Was he trying to hurt him? No. But do I think Wes was trying to give Aqib a warning shot, that, ‘Hey, this is coming your way all day long’? Abso-friggin-lutley.”