The way we see it, with most teams hitting the practice field this week, it’s officially NFL season again. And as Denver’s training camp kicks off, we’re naturally curious how their new ex-Patriot Pro Bowl slot receiver is faring. So we caught up with Mr. Welker to ask about adjusting to a new team, really scary fans and facing off against DeMarcus Ware in the players’ challenge for Depend to benefit the V Foundation. Good times!
“The Jets fans get into it pretty good, particularly when you’re with the Patriots. There’s a few teams like that, where the fans are borderline crazy.”
MADE MAN: You’re in the NFL, yet you’re the size of a normal human being: 5’9”, 185 pounds. How much of a challenge is that?
WES WELKER: You do sit there and think, “Wow, I can’t believe I play against this guy—he’s crazy big.”
MM: Do you ever give yourself any break from training?
WW: As soon as the season’s over usually. All your guilty pleasures come out. Mine are usually sweets. Chocolates and all those different things. Your body’s been through a lot, so you try to give it that rest, that downtime your body needs. It just kind of depends. I’d say after a month you go, “You know, I’m getting fat, I’m going to start to get back into it.”
MM: There’s a huge amount of preparation for any season, but is it particularly intense when you’re changing teams?
WW: Sure. It’s a whole new system. All new players, all new coaches, the whole deal, so definitely you really have to buckle down and learn the whole system. Make sure I’m in the right spots on the right plays against different coverages. The Broncos sent me an iPad that has all the plays and everything like that so I can watch them and see everything. I’ll spend a lot of time with Peyton and the offensive coordinator and the receivers coach and make sure I’m on the same page.
That was then…
MM: Is there a player you’ve modeled your career after?
WW: I think you pick up things from a lot of people. I picked up a lot of things from Tom Brady—how to approach the game, how to prepare and study. I learned a lot from Tim Dwight early in my career. There’ve been a lot of players I’ve watched—you know, the Wayne Chrebets, guys like that—that I’ve tried to pick up things from over the years.
MM: You went from a team that’s always expected to win… to a team where anything less than a Super Bowl will be considered a failure. How do you handle the pressure?
WW: I think you just deal with it and roll with it. I just think you try not to think about it at all. You just go out there and do your job to the best of your ability. Don’t worry about the other stuff.
MM: After going undrafted in 2004, what was your mindset? Did you have any doubts you’d make it in the NFL?
WW: I knew I’d get an opportunity. But yes, there were doubts. Because everybody said, “You can’t do it.” I think my outlook on it was, “I want to do everything possible to try and make it.” If I don’t make it, so be it. But I don’t want to look back and think, “If I’d only done this.” I tried to put everything into every single day, every single play. It worked out.
MM: Who are the best athletes you’ve seen in the NFL?
WW: I started out with the Chargers, so I played with LaDainian Tomlinson. The way he moved and the cuts he made… phenomenal player. Chris Chambers was a guy who made spectacular plays. Randy Moss was a freak. Rodney Harrison. So intense, such a great safety.
… and this is now.
MM: Last year you and DeMarcus Ware tried on Depend Real Fit briefs for charity. This year you’re competing against each other in The Great American Try-On to raise money for prostate cancer research. What keeps you coming back to this?
WW: It’s been a lot of fun having the competition with DeMarcus to try and get the most votes. It’s been fun to have that aspect, but also do a good thing. My wife and I have a good friend who has prostate cancer right now and is getting treatment and doing well. You see the effects of everything he goes through with it. It definitely hits home for us.
MM: Do you follow other sports?
WW: I grew up playing soccer. I get into it when the Olympics come around or there’s a big game over in Europe. I actually went down to Brazil with some friends for a few days and we went to a soccer game. We were in Rio. I don’t know who the teams were, but they’re rivals. Fans of one team were on one side, fans of the other team on the other side.
MM: Did watching it make you think, “I wish our fans were that passionate”?
WW: It was too much. I remember we walked in and all these people were just running. We didn’t know what was going on, so we started running. We didn’t know if somebody got shot or stabbed or what. Police were running after these people. It was scary.
MM: What NFL fans give you the worst—albeit not Brazilian bad—time?
WW: The Jets fans get into it pretty good, particularly when you’re with the Patriots. There’s a lot of places. Oakland. The Eagles are really into it. There’s a few teams like that, where the fans are borderline crazy.