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Patriots notebook

Welker deflects hits

He answers McGinest's diva characterization

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / April 26, 2012
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Wes Welker publicly said for the first time Tuesday he would like a long-term deal from the Patriots, and he feels he deserves one.

That night, former Patriot Willie McGinest, who works as an analyst at NFL Network, had some strong words while discussing Welker’s situation.

“I just don’t like the diva attitude,’’ the former linebacker/defensive lineman said. “Let’s keep it real: prior to the Patriots, this is a guy who played three years, had 96 receptions and never had a 1,000-yard season. Due to a big part of the Patriots’ offensive system and Tom Brady, he’s had five years where he’s over 100 catches.

“Let’s keep everything in perspective: a big part of that is due to the Patriots. So look, Wes, it’s time to take off the leopard-print cowboy boots, get off the party tour, and get back to work. During my tenure in New England, no matter how big you were or who you were, nobody said that they weren’t coming to a mandatory minicamp. If you know anything about New England, understand that you’re expendable. Unless you’re Bill Belichick or Tom Brady, you’re expendable.’’

The major flaw in McGinest’s argument is that the June minicamp is mandatory for players under contract; if Welker doesn’t have a long-term deal in place or doesn’t sign his franchise tender by then, he won’t be under contract.

But Welker took to Twitter Wednesday to send McGinest this message: “why did u ever leave the Pats and play for the Browns?’’

The answer is money. After signing contracts worth a total of $57 million during his time with New England, McGinest was cut in 2006 as a salary-cap move. Cleveland, with former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel as head coach, picked him up for three years and $12 million.

Welker’s five-year deal with the Patriots, signed in 2007, was worth $18.1 million.

McGinest’s tweet back to Welker was, “My point exactly. We’re all expendable at Patriot Place.’’

That’s as far as things went on Twitter.

Navy frees Kettani

The US Navy announced Wednesday it granted Eric Kettani an early release from his active duty service obligation to pursue his career in football.

The 25-year-old running back was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2009, but placed on the reserve/military list that summer. He was with the team last year during training camp and was named to the practice squad to start the season, but was recalled by the Navy in October.

Kettani was re-signed by the Patriots in February, and has been taking part in the offseason workout program.

In a release, Navy spokesperson Lieutenant commander Tamara Lawrence said, “In evaluating Kettani’s release from his active duty service obligation, the Department of the Navy considered the favorable prospects of Kettani’s ability to play for the New England Patriots, the potential for recruiting and public affairs benefits for the DON [Department of Navy] if he makes the team, and the fact that there is an adequate supply of officers in his designated career field.’’

Kettani served nearly three years of his five-year obligation with the Navy.

Hall finalists named

The team announced the three finalists for induction into the franchise Hall of Fame this year: receiver Troy Brown, defensive back Fred Marion, and coach Bill Parcells.

This is the first year Brown is eligible for induction; an eighth-round draft pick in 1993, he retired in 2007 as the Patriots’ all-time leader in receptions and punt returns, and also became the first player in team history to record a reception and interception in the same game in 2004 when he was moonlighting as a cornerback.

Marion is also a finalist for the first time; he was a fifth-round draft pick in 1982. He played 144 games in a decade, and in 1985 had an AFC-high seven interceptions, which earned him his first Pro Bowl berth. Marion pulled in 29 interceptions in his career, third-most in team history.

Parcells is a finalist for the second year; he came to New England in 1993 and inherited a team that had gone 2-14 the year before. In 1994, he led the team to the playoffs for the first time in eight years, finishing the regular season with a seven-game win streak. In 1996, his fourth and final season with the Patriots, the team went to its second Super Bowl.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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