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The karmic case against Wes Welker's press-conference footsie

Posted by Jesse Singal  January 14, 2011 11:59 AM

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welkerfoot.jpgSure, Wes Welker's press conference yesterday — in which he said "foot" or "toe" at a rate of about once a minute, probably in an attempt to tweak Jets coach and noted foot-enjoyer Rex Ryan — was funny. Very funny. But it has the superstitious part of me worried.

As many have pointed out, this week has been an accelerated primer on the difference between the Ryan and Bill Belichick schools of coaching. Ryan loves to talk. And talk. And talk. And he doesn't mind when his players get in on the act. The more verbal fireworks, the better. It's led to a pretty ridiculous — albeit entertaining — week of pregame trash-talking.

Belichick, on the other hand, embraces reticence like Dan Connolly embraced the football during his ridiculous, rumbling kick return a few weeks ago. He won't even answer basic questions during press conferences, let alone engage in verbal sparring with the likes of Ryan.

Belichick's penchant for keeping quiet is part of the Patriot Way, a larger, oftentimes overhyped concept that has driven the team during its decade-long run of success. It's not a complicated ideology: all that matters is preparing for the next game, and anything not directly connected to preparing for the next game is a waste of time — not least the endless hype and pointless speculation fueled by the media's obsessive coverage of the NFL. The Patriot Way puts a premium on the team over the individual, on shutting up and doing your job over getting caught up in all the nonsense that surrounds pro football.

For the most part, the Patriots had done a good job of heeding these guidelines, even as the volume of verbal ordnance coming from the southwest has flared since the Jets beat Indianapolis last week. It had the feel of a classic Patriots victory: one team gets caught up in the nonsense, but the Patriots don't, choosing instead to simply prepare for the task ahead and eventually prevailing, in part due to their professionalism.

So something feels off in Welker — who along with with fellow receiver Deion Branch really does embody the Patriot Way more than almost anyone else on he team — stooping to a Ryan-esque level of trash talk, albeit in a far subtler, more clever way.

I'm not saying it will alter the end result in Foxboro on Sunday, since the talent differentials, particularly at quarterback, will of course affect the outcome more than any abstract force. But still. If the Patriots do take care of business on Sunday, wouldn't it have been all the sweeter if everyone on the team had maintained Belichick's veneer of disconnected stoicism for the whole week?
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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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