Last night, on ESPN radio, there was a discussion of the comments former Patriot Wes Welker made about his former coach, the Hooded Nemesis Bill Belichick. Welker, perhaps understandably, noted that he felt he had done everything the team had asked him to do, and that his last year there, Belichick had still singled him out for unwarranted criticism.
After the season, of course, Welker got a lowball offer from the Pats, got a slightly higher one from Denver, and left town in a blaze of crossing routes. Now, to anyone not named Wes Welker, this sounds an awful lot like Belichick knew he wasn't bringing Welker back and purposely set about making sure his teammates weren't going to miss him too much. Call it character assassination, call it shrewd psychology, whatever; this is the NFL, where 370 pound men regularly slam into each other with the force of a SmartCar getting inhaled by a Hummer's engine intake. "Not nice" doesn't entire into it.
But the best part was listening to John Clayton, a man who clearly lost his way en route to a medieval history department somewhere and found the football field instead, talk about why the Patriots let Welker, a man who had done everything they asked, who had pulled in over 100 receptions in 5 straight seasons, go.
Apparently, it was the economy.
Let's think about that. Clayton is claiming that the economy didn't allow the Patriots to re-sign Welker. Never mind that their revenues are pretty much locked in and climbing. Never mind that with the new TV deals in 2014 team revenues are going to go through the roof (even if cap numbers won't). Never mind that the Patriots have still somehow managed to scrimp their way to spending all $120M+ of their cap money this year on players not named Wes Welker. They had the money. They just chose not to spend it on Wes Welker.
It's the economy.
No, John, it's not. Outside of Jacksonville, the NFL's economy is doing just fine, thank you. The Patriots are swimming in money, even after losing literally tens of thousands of dollars on the Aaron Hernandez jersey thing. They didn't bring back Welker because they didn't want to bring back Welker. They thought their money - which they have gobs of - would be better spent elsewhere. That's all. And blaming it on the economy - and asking people to believe that - shows a sort of disrespect for the intelligence of one's audience. We can count, John. And even if we're doing it by millions, we can count to $120M.
Maybe it's a good thing Clayton's a "professor" in name only, after all.