Wes Welker was the typical Bill Belichick player for years, but now he’s going to face off in a grudge match against his former coach.
Welker parted ways with New England last season, a shocking departure for a player that had meant so much to the franchise and was best friends with quarterback Tom Brady.
Welker decided to join Peyton Manning in Denver, adding a powerful weapon to an already high-powered offense. The two teams will now face off on Sunday Night Football, with the 9-1 Broncos looking to seize control in the AFC against 7-3 New England.
There seems to be a bit of hard feelings between Welker and his former team. The wide receiver was offered only a 2-year, $10 million contract by the Patriots, which was seen as well below his market value.
When Welker left, he noted that his relationship with Bill Belichick fractured after the coach “got on him in a way he never had before, admonishing him in front of the team” in his last season with the Patriots.
“It was just kind of hard,” Welker said at the time. “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.”
He also said the tight control Belichick put on his players still played with his mind.
“When I’m answering questions from the Denver media, I’m not worried about what the Broncos’ people are going to think,” Welker told Sports Illustrated. “I’m worried about what Belichick will think. Isn’t that crazy?”
His return to New England is highly anticipated, with implications well beyond Welker’s return to Foxboro. A win by the Broncos could put them in track for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Welker said he is looking forward to contest.
“Definitely excited. It’s a big game, a big matchup,” Wes Welker told Denver media Friday. “Great environment and everything else. I really look forward to it.”