Last evening, the Patriots took on the Falcons in their 2nd preseason game. And though the Patriots put on a solid performance winning 28 to 10, the real story was the return of super slot receiver Wes “the Wildman” Welker. Boy was it nice to see the little speedster back on the field. He corralled in two catches for 20 yards, and looked to be almost back to normal. Though I am a Cincinnati guy, I definitely want Welker on that field for the Patriots come September 12th when the Bengals and Patriots do battle in Week 1. Who would really want it any other way?
Welker possesses many attributes that American football fans find appealing. First of all he is extremely undersized. Our League today is dominated by big receivers such as Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, and Randy Moss. All three of these guys are 6 foot 3 or above with amazing wingspans. Therefore, Wes represents the everyday common man who sits and watches football on his couch every Sunday. In addition, not to make this a race thing, but Wes is caucasian. And really when receivers comes to mind, outside of Kevin Walter, I begin to draw a blank on big time white receivers in the League. Next, Wes has been overlooked many times. All of us have been overlooked in our lives or not given our proper due for something. Well you have to respect that Welker has dealt with this just like the rest of us and overcome each and every time. Lastly, Wes has an amazing work ethic and has kept his nose clean on and off the field. Americans love the Rocky movies due to the amazing story and Rocky’s unheralded work ethic. People also love guys who stay out of trouble on and off the field in a League today, that is full of prima donnas, who cannot stay out of trouble. Welker has become a rare breed, and something that we as NFL fans should cherish.
Now many people do not realize that Welker is another one of those guys who really came from nothing. Welker is your prototypical rags to riches story. The heartfelt saga that we love as Americans. He kind of shocked the world by even making it in this League, much less becoming the best possession receiver football. A guy like Wes will not wow you with his size, his 40 time, his vertical leap, or any of the traditional athletic markers. What he will wow you with is his ability to catch the ball and consistently make plays. To be entirely honest, it was quite surprising that this guy even got to play Division 1 College Football. Though Wes was a big time star at Heritage Hall School in Oklahoma City, he was vastly overlooked by recruiters. Welker kind of lucked into a scholarship in that a recruit backed out of an offer from Texas Tech last-minute. Whoever was the coach at the time made a smart decision. Can you guess who that man was?
Try first year (at the time) coach, Mike Leach. Does that name ring a bell? Now Welker went on to have an outstanding career at Tech, really making a name for himself in the special teams aspect of the game. He tied the NCAA record with 8 punt returns taken to the house. Either way, Wes once again was overlooked and went undrafted. This was beginning to become a reoccurring trend for the 5 foot 9 undersized receiver from Oklahoma City. Either way, Wes kept at it and was signed by the Chargers as a Free Agent.
Now I will admit that Welker was cut by the Chargers after the first week of the 2004 season, but immediately picked up by the Miami Dolphins. Welker was predominantly used on special teams over the next couple of years and did have a knack for making big plays. Finally in 2006, he was given his shot as a receiver. And you know that the little big man took advantage of it catching 67 passes. In 2007, “little” Wes signed with the Patriots. Well, and the rest is history.
This kid continues to fascinate me every day not only with his stats, but with his overall toughness and amazing work ethic. I mean the man is 5 foot 9. Kids that are 5 foot 9 are considered too small to play receivers on big time high school teams these days. Try playing in the best League in the world at this size and thriving. Wes has.
It was quite disheartening to see Wes suffer a major knee injury on January 3rd in the Patriot’s final regular season game this past season. But you knew the guy would be back. He always has a way to get through adversity and conquer. Well this instance appears to be no different.
Wes had 123 catches in just 14 games last season. This total ranks 2nd in NFL history. You better believe that many are saying Welker cannot repeat this type of performance. But you also better believe that Wes has always thrived on proving the naysayers wrong.
Defenses beware, the little big man Wes Welker is back, and ready to tear up any and all comers.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.