EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 24, 2012

Welker steps up for Haverhill Boys and Girls Club

By Hector Longo hlongo@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — BOSTON — Touchdown, Wes Welker!

Was there ever a doubt with the Haverhill Boys Club in need of a superstar that the New England Patriots’ receiver would deliver?

The four-time Pro Bowler donated his time last night to host four lucky and generous fans for a spectacular dinner at The Capital Grille Monday night. The guests won the right to be here via an auction at a recent Haverhill Boys Club benefit.

On the menu were smooth lobster bisque, premium cuts of beef, Patriots chatter and a whole lot of laughs, courtesy of Welker and his wit.

“I know he’s a great football player, but who knew he was such a great guy?,” queried Deb DeVenne, a banker with People’s United and one of the auction winners from Atkinson. “He was really super.”

Welker, preparing with the Pats for this week’s long road trip to London, England, as the team faces the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, took on all questions in the informal setting and clearly came through, per usual, with the clutch performance.

“How do you stay so down to earth?,” asked DeVenne, noting his humility despite the on-field greatness.

“A lot of that comes from my parents,” said the Oklahoma native. “They’ve always been there for me. They’re supportive, but they also knew when they needed to rein me in and keep me in line. I always remember what they have taught me.”

Admittedly, like much of the New England football fandom, the folks at the table are a tad bit perplexed and worried about the 4-3 Pats and their recent performance.

Cool and collected, Welker was the calm in the eye of the storm.

“We just need to get our swagger back offensively. We have to start scoring more points, like were used to,” he said. “I’m pretty sure it will happen.”

Welker touched on diverse subjects, today’s NFL, the trash-talkers and toughest players he’s faced. Married just five months ago, he showed a focused eye on his future, both in the game and after.

“I’d like to play as long as I can at this high level, as long as my body allows it,” said the 31-year-old, who continues to take strides on assuring he gets as much as he can out of himself physically.

“For the first time in my career, I’ve brought in my own guy from Colorado to help care for my body and take better care of it. I feel great, better than I ever have at this point, so it’s definitely paying off.”

Welker talked openly about the recent ESPN E:60 feature that documented the financial struggles and bankruptcies of so many recent professional superstars, and how seeing those stories told has affected him.

“I’m pretty sure it won’t happen to me,” said Welker. “But you look around, you see friends and other players, and you know it’s probably going to happen to some of them. You do what you can to try and help, but it’s going to happen.”

A former Miami Dolphin, Welker noted he’s done some investing with his ex-Miami teammate, Rob Konrad, the North Andover native, who forged the Konrad Allen investment group in South Florida.

After a great night of food, dinner and fun, it was Windham’s Bill Deluca, who finally took care of the 400-pound gorilla standing in the room.

“So are you going to be here next year?,” he asked ­­— the question that every New England football fans needs answered.

“I definitely want to be,” said Welker. “If they want me, I absolutely want to be here.”

Follow Eagle-Tribune Sports Reporter Hector Longo on Twitter under the screen name @MVcreature.

WELKER STEPS UP With close ties to youngsters in his charitable Wes Welker Foundation, the connection between Welker, the Patriots superstar, and a quality youth facility like the Haverhill Boys and Girls Club would be a perfect fit. The Haverhill Boys and Girls Club currently: Services an average of 218 members on a daily basis, most from the inner city. Offers daily programs including homework help, a technology center, arts and crafts, physical fitness, snacks, a teen center, game room and an after-school science program. In addition, the club runs leagues or instruction in basketball, floor hockey, volleyball, cheerleading, dance and ballet.