If there was any question as to what kind of relationship Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and former Pats receiver Wes Welker currently have, Belichick answered it Monday, a day after New England’s 26-16 loss to Denver in the AFC Championship game.
Belichick slammed Welker at his Monday morning press conference regarding the receiver’s hit on cornerback Aqib Talib early in the second quarter.
“I feel bad for Aqib, the way the play turned out,” Belichick said. “I went back and watched it, which I didn’t get a chance to do yesterday. It was a deliberate play by the receiverto take out Aqib. No attempt to get open. I’ll let the league handle the discipline for that. It’s not for me to decide, but it’s one of the worst plays I’ve seen. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Welker injured Talib’s ribs on an apparent “pick play.” Talib, regarded by most as the Patriots’ top corner, had been battling a hip injury throughout the season.
Welker said after the game Sunday that there was no intent to injure Talib.
“It was one of those plays where it’s kind of a rough play and I was trying to get him to go over the top, and I think he was thinking the same thing and wanted to come underneath and we just kind of collided,” Welker said. “It wasn’t a deal where I was trying to hit him or anything like that. I hope he’s OK. He’s a great player and a big part of their defense.”
Welker and Belichick have had a tumultuous relationship for several years now, dating back to 2011 when Welker made multiple references to “feet” at a press conference. The comments came just prior to the Patriots playing the Jets in the playoffs and the internet was abuzz at the time regarding a foot fetish video in which Jets head coach Rex Ryan and his wife made an appearance. Belichick benched Welker to start the game and the Patriots lost at home to New York.
At the start of the 2012 season, and after being franchised by the team, Welker seemed to be being phased out of the Patriots offense. But when Aaron Hernandez went down with an injury in early October, Welker once again became one of Tom Brady’s go-to targets and caught 13 balls for 104 yards against the Titans. Appearing on Comcast New England following the game, Welker said with a wink, “It’s kind of nice to stick it in Bill’s face once in a while. So, this is definitely a good one.”
Following the 2012 season, Welker was a free agent and chose to sign with Denver for two years and $12 million instead of returning to the Patriots for two years and $10 million with incentives. Upon arriving in Denver he sounded off on his former coach and his style of coaching.
“It was just kind of hard,” Welker told Sports Illustrated. “One of those deals where you have to endure him, put up with him . . . But he does it to everybody, it’s the way he is.”
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Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable contributed to this report