NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 16, 2013

The end game for Welker and Pats

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — “So,” I asked Big Freddy after we had about done with what we agreed could only be a loss to the Patriots by Welker signing with the Denver Broncos, “now what?”

“Changes have consequences,” Freddy said.

“Did you make that up yourself or read it in a book somewhere?” I asked.

“The thing is you never can be sure what they’re going to be even if you’re part of the change,” Freddy said.

“You deal with reality. Welker managed to keep going despite taking a lot of hits you’d think he couldn’t get up from. But he does, and maybe a couple of plays later, he makes a catch you’d think no one could, and he’s off 30 or 40 yards for another touchdown.

“It looks like he’s got rubber joints. He’s been doing that for a long time. Looks like he can do it forever. He can’t, so the Pats figure it’s time for a change — wish him well — no hard feelings either side, and off he goes.”

“But he and Brady are so close, it has to be tough on both of them,” I said.

“They’re pros,” Freddy said. “Brady needs targets, and Welker has been one of the best he’s had. He can’t be happy about this, but business is business.

“Welker’s no fool. He’s already got a Hall of Fame election in the bag, and he knows he’s got just enough left for the end games of his career.

“The Broncos beckon, and they have both two solid-goal football greats where it counts. Elway is their executive vice president, and Peyton Manning throwing the ball. He likes what he sees going on there, takes what he’s earned by way of success during his time with Brady, and the Patriots make it easy for him to go by standing pat on what they’re paying him.”

“Well, it’s a loss for the Pats,” I said.

“But not for Welker,” Freddy said. “According to him, he was the one making the pitch to Elway, and you can’t blame him. He wants to go out a winner. That would mean he couldn’t see the Pats getting their act together to win another Super Bowl in the time he had left.”

“Well, it must be leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the Pats,” I said.

“Some, maybe, but I doubt it,” Freddy said. “You can make a case here there’s no bad blood involved. Welker has played his heart out from the beginning. He’s taken more bad hits and kept getting up more than just about anyone. His completion records and touchdowns make him a sure bet for the Hall of Fame.”

“Patriot fans aren’t going to take this loss lightly,” I said.

“But it won’t be Welker who’ll be taking the hits,” Freddy said. “The difference between what he was asking and what the Pats were willing to give wasn’t chump change, but what he was asking wasn’t unreasonable either. Love can be a many splendid thing, but when it comes to professional sports ... well, good luck to Welker. He gave it all he had with the Pats, and he’ll keep on doing it for Denver.

“It won’t go down easy for Pats’ fans, but it’s why we call them professional sports.”

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Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His email address is plantejr@comcast.net.