Wes Welker Wins Us Over
Wes Welker is not your typical hulking football star
You’re having breakfast at the counter at Charlie’s in the South End when you notice that the guy next to you looks familiar. Only after he leaves do you realize it was Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. You just did what dozens of football experts did for many years. You overlooked Wes Welker.
Welker is a great receiver. His numbers since he joined the Patriots in ’07 have been ridiculous. Yet this is only part of the reason for his popularity. Boston fans take their heroes to heart. We have embraced Welker even beyond what his impressive numbers would dictate. We do this because, more than any NFL star we know, he reminds us of… us.
Boston fans have always loved the tough-guy underdog. When those guys produce results at record clips, they become Boston sports heroes. When they happen to resemble the average fan more than the prototypical professional athlete, they enter a whole different realm. Boston fans identify so closely with Welker because in him we see our buddies, maybe our sons, even ourselves.
We can idolize Kevin Garnett and Josh Beckett all day, but when push comes to shove we all know we never could have been an intimidating 6-foot-11 NBA forward or an imposing 225-pound pitcher. But Wes Welker? Now that is another story. Hell, he’s only 5-foot-9. What’s he weigh? A buck eighty? He is not huge. In fact he looks sort of average.
Not that I am bursting any real bubbles, but Wes Welker is as far from “average” as I am from sainthood; he may very well be the toughest player, pound for pound, in the NFL. We almost take it for granted that he will get up after taking a hit you can practically feel through the television. Even when he tears up his knee in a freakish manner, he still manages to come back months earlier than any “experts” said he could. Welker does all this not so much for the money or glory or fame—he does this because he is a remarkably talented, smart, tough and dedicated athlete who plays the game with a small chip on his shoulder. That chip comes from a repeated lack of respect. From his high school days through his time with the Dolphins he was underestimated; Miami gave him away for a song. Tom Brady, on the other hand, is happy the Patriots did not overlook Wes Welker—nobody makes Brady look quite so good, maybe not even Gisele. Welker has used that Lack of Respect card to propel himself to the top of his profession.
You can love him for whatever reason you want. Respect him for the talent he is.