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Face, feet, and the wit of Wes Welker

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  October 9, 2012 10:58 AM

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See the above? That's the best press conference ever. Of all the mindless, numbing, useless football press conferences to come out of Gillette Stadium, that is the most entertaining off-field delivery a Patriots player has ever given. Wide receiver Wes Welker took the moment and delivered harmless, hysterical jabs at Jets coach Rex Ryan, who, it was discovered, is a big fan of the feet.

Welker is a funny dude. His dry wit is a genuine asset, particularly in a Patriots locker room that is consistently at some Defcon level of silence. The "Patriot Way" has become a sports cliché, an insistence of keeping quiet for the greater good, bereft of personality. Yet, inject the slightest bit of a sense of humor in that atmosphere, and the axis goes askew.

The fact that Welker had to let on that he was kidding about his remarks to Comcast's Mike Felger following the Patriots' entertaining 31-21 win over the Denver Broncos is silly. Wellker put any thought of the team "phasing him out"of the offense back on the bookshelf with the rest of the fairy tales. He finished the game with 104 yards receiving and a touchdown, and is now tied for the NFL lead in receptions (39) among wide receivers. Not bad for a guy who some suggested could even be gone at the trading deadline thanks to the saga of his never-ending contract dispute.

"Yeah, it's kind of nice to stick it in Bill's face once in a while," Welker told Felger during his weekly postgame segment.

On Monday, Welker actually had to explain to the frothing media corps that the remark was a joke and not a shot at the helm of SS Bill Belichick.

"You just have to be careful with what you say," Welker said. "Bill does a good job of challenging us, and being a great coach, and doing things that he needs to do, and I made a joke about it, and it won't happen again."

Bummer.

Perhaps there's a level of hypocrisy for making a big deal out of something others made a big deal about for little reason, but the fact that Welker had to clarify the situation is both an indictment on the Patriots' lockdown methods and an over reactionary media that lurches onto every word from Foxborough as gospel. Ever try to follow Twitter during Wednesday media availability? It's an endless stream of innocuous comments from Belichick that two dozen reporters treat like double secret information that nobody else possesses. There are few things worse than having to dissect and overanalyze a press conference that tells next to nothing.

So what happens the moment somebody makes an attempt to liven things up? It turns into a vortex of controversy, immediately extinguished by the head of state. Maybe Welker did get a tongue-lashing from Belichick. Maybe Bill understood the humor behind the situation. Maybe Welker will have to sit out the first series Sunday against the Seahawks. Believe me, if that happens, stay away from any semblance of a sports talk show. It'll be Armageddon.

The point is, anybody offended that Welker insulted the coach needs to calm down a little bit and recognize the genuine smirk with which the remark was delivered. The worst part of this whole affair is Welker telling his audience that it "won't happen again." Shame. Just like the Patriots, we need more Wes Welker, not less.

Looking forward to hearing how "physical" and "explosive" those Seahawks are. What a hoot.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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