Friday, March 15, 2013

Supporter Submission - Welkergate

Like most New England fans, I was devastated to learn that as of Wednesday, receiver Wes Welker was no longer a Patriot.

In short, the Denver Broncos offered the five-time Pro Bowler an offer he couldn't refuse (proving that Don Vito Corleone would be an ideal GM), and in the process Peyton Manning became one step closer to another Super Bowl. Yes, it's sad to see Welker go, but the acquisition of Danny Amendola adds another weapon to a potent offense that already has the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd and Stevan Ridley with Tom Brady running the whole show. Now cap that off with Josh McDaniels as the offensive coordinator and I'm cautiously optimistic about the Pats offense this coming season. 

The responses from the Patriots faithful range all over the board for what I'm going to dub “Welkergate.” From unrealistic optimism -- It's okay because the Patriots are going to have a reincarnated Walter Payton at running back next year! -- to morbid pessimism -- I heard that the franchise is going to move to Chechnya because Welker left... -- supporters have wasted no time sharing their thoughts on the matter.

Despite numerous valid responses to Welker's departure, some fans seem determined to take it personally. As I went on Facebook immediately following the deal (my fault for expecting an intelligent opinion on Facebook), I saw countless examples of one simple fact: Boston fans are some of the most disloyal, two-faced and downright cruel supporters of any city in the nation and have the attention span of a ten cent goldfish.

Now I don't think this applies to the majority of Boston fans, but I was amazed the number of people saying things like, “Why don't you go lose the Broncos a Super Bowl!” or “We're better off without him he never did anything for the franchise!” The list goes on and on with most comments containing the vulgar elegance that only a fan wearing a sideways hat with the wrong team colors on it could articulate.

While it's justifiable to be mad about such a high profile player leaving the team, these fans constantly display their lack of knowledge about sports, or in general, by overlooking the substantial contributions that players like Welker or others have made to the franchise. Yes, Welker may have dropped one pass in the Super Bowl but that pass would not have mattered had the defense not allowed Eli Manning to lead an 88-yard drive with less than four minutes remaining. If that argument doesn't do it for you then maybe this one will: the Patriots would not have had the success they had in 2011-12 or over the past  six seasons (76-20 record) without Welker's 672 receptions (a franchise record) 7,459 receiving yards (second in Franchise history) or five 100+ reception seasons (the only player in NFL history to do so). 

The fact that supposed fans can overlook such an unrivaled level of performance is both aggravating and disappointing, but sadly is true in just about every Boston-area sports team. 

These are the same fans who called for the release of David Ortiz during the 2011 season despite the fact that he holds the Red Sox single-season record for home runs, carried the Sox to the 2004 World Series and has done more for that team and the city of Boston than most people will ever dream of. These are the same fans who boo Ray Allen every time he sets foot in the TD Garden despite the fact that he was a crucial part of their 2008 NBA Championship. These are the same fans who boo Phil Kessel despite the fact that he was crucial to the Bruins rebuilding period prior to their 2011 Stanley Cup Championship (his trade gave the B's the picks to draft Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton).

The list goes on and on: John Beckett (2007 ALCS MVP), Kevin Youkilis (2008 Hank Aaron Award), Joe Thornton (five seasons as team captain) and Julio Lugo... Well, okay, I'll give you that one, but you get the idea.

The point is that while we may not be happy when players leave or do not perform to our expectations, it's classless and unfair to ignore the accomplishments these players have made for a franchise. While it was definitely time to let Beckett go last year, I have nothing but respect for him and what he did for the Sox, particularly during the '07 World Series. Sometimes fans need a reminder that their franchise would not be where they are without the contributions of these players.

While again, this doesn't apply to the majority of Boston fans, there are enough people spouting nonsense out there for it to be said. It's perfectly justifiable to be upset to see Welker go. Heck, you can even be mad at Welker himself, but don't ridicule his contributions to the franchise, because the fact of the matter is, he was an essential part of the New England Patriots for the past six years and nothing can negate that.


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