BOSTON (CBS) — It may have been hard to believe 10 years ago, but Wes Welker — the undersized, undrafted and unwanted wide receiver out of Texas Tech — is gearing up to play in his third Super Bowl.
Welker, 32, does so this time without Tom Brady as his quarterback, but the man throwing him passes this year isn’t too shabby. So naturally, when Welker sat at his podium Tuesday for Super Bowl media day, the question had to be asked: Who do you prefer to catch passes from — Brady or Peyton Manning?
Welker, still showing the skill of a Patriot, deftly sidestepped the question.
“Well,” Welker said in a portion of his media session televised on NFL Network, “hopefully this Sunday, Peyton. I’m looking forward to playing in this one and getting ready for this game and hopefully make some plays for him.”
Welker made some plays for Brady, catching 18 passes for 163 yards and adding 21 rushing yards and a 15-yard punt return in his previous two Super Bowl appearances. Yet it was his drop that made headlines after Super Bowl XLVI, as a catch likely would have allowed the Patriots to run out the clock and tack on to their lead. Instead, the Patriots punted, the Giants marched down the field, and Welker and the Patriots lost.
This time around, Welker doesn’t seem fazed by the drop, and he said he’s simply trying to enjoy the moment.
“I think the main thing is really just trying to enjoy it and know that these moments don’t come along all the time,” Welker told Deion Sanders during the media session. “It’s hard, man. I remember when I went in ’07, I was like, ‘We’re going next year, we’re going the year after that.’ It took me five years to get back, and five years is a long time! I say that and Champ [Bailey] is going for his first time after 15 years. It’s hard to get here. You appreciate it and you try to enjoy it.”
Welker did expand a bit on the Brady/Manning question earlier in his talk with the media.
“I think I’ve answered that question probably 100,000 times this year,” said Welker, who caught a career-high 10 touchdowns this season while posting significantly lower numbers in receptions and yards. “They’re both great quarterbacks and they both do a great job. That’s pretty much it.”
Sanders said that he has a 1-on-1 interview with outspoken Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman scheduled later in the day, and Sanders asked Welker if the receiver had any words he wanted to pass on to Sherman.
“I don’t know, man. Probably quit doing 1-on-1 [interviews], man,” Welker said with a laugh. “Every time I look up, he’s doing 1-on-1’s. Stick with the field, man.”
Though it’s a virtual certainty that Sherman won’t be covering any receiver in the slot, would Welker like to see Sherman in 1-on-1 coverage on Sunday?
“Yeah, any time,” Welker said. “I want anybody 1-on-1 in the slot. Any time.”