EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

December 18, 2007

Welker has fooled even the experts

The quote is hard to forget:



"Wes Welker is a good football player ... but you're not going to win championships with that kind of player."



It came from a Texas guy, NFL.com's Gil Brandt, the legendary general manager of the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1988, about another Texas guy, Welker, who graduated from Texas Tech.



Well, here we are just two games away from the regular-season finale and Welker and the New England Patriots are unbeaten at 14-0 and the favorites to do what Brandt said wouldn't happen - win a championship.



Better yet, Welker has been one of the integral parts of the offensive machine being called the newest version of "The Greatest Show on Turf."



After Sunday's game, he joined elite company with 1,004 yards receiving, ranking him 14th in the NFL. Better yet, his 96 catches put in at No. 2 behind Cincinnati's T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who has 101 catches through 14 games.



"I said that, but that's not exactly what I meant," said Brandt, via phone from his Dallas home, referring to his Welker quote.



"I believed then that Wes Welker was a very good player. I still believe that," said Brandt. "But I believe he is more of a role player. I believe we were (on the radio) talking about a team with 11 Wes Welkers. I said you can't win a championship that way. It probably didn't come off the way I meant it."



Granted, when Brandt made his comments Randy Moss, the Patriots' No. 1 receiver, wasn't even on the radar screen.



Add to the fact that Welker had only one touchdown reception during his three years with the Dolphins, and you can understand Brandt's analysis.



But it sounds like he is backpedaling a wee bit. And he agrees he is.



"Look, I'm being honest; Wes is better than I thought he would be," said Brandt. "He's got 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. That's great production. Obviously, New England made the right choice giving up a second-rounder for him."



Brandt says he is rooting for Welker for a couple of reasons, one of which is that Welker attended Texas Tech, a school Brandt has followed for many years.



"Here we have a guy that made the team as a walk-on and eventually got the last scholarship," said Brandt. "It looked like he might go to Oklahoma until they gave him the scholarship. Wes proved to people that he could play at that level, just like he's doing with the Patriots. I admire the guy a lot."



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