It was our pleasure to talk with New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker recently, especially given the promotion he's doing with two other famous NFL players -- Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware (who we'll be talking with very soon ... stay tuned). While most athlete endorsements focus on the appearance of physical dominance, Welker, Matthews and Ware recently took part in something called "The Big Try-On" for ... Depend undergarments.
Yes, you read that right.
In truth, it's an interesting deal for an important cause. Per the press release, "The Great American Try-On" raises awareness and offers confidence to the many Americans living with bladder control issues. All three players have tried on a pair of the new Depend Real Fit briefs under their uniforms to show that you can be as active as you want to be while wearing them. Their participation in The Great American Try-On supports The V Foundation for Cancer Research's mission to find a cure for cancers — specifically prostate cancer, a leading cause of bladder control issues in men. They're also encouraging others to participate by visiting TheGreatAmericanTryOn.com, and we would encourage you to do the same.
In Part 1 of the interview, Wes talked about the promotion, and we then started getting into the intricacies of the Patriots offense. That's where Part 2 picks up.
Shutdown Corner: It does seem like more of a fast-break offense now -- Tom is almost the point guard, and he's distributing the ball in these more advanced concepts.
Wes Welker: It is. And we're very complex in what we do, and we have a lot of targets, and we try to take advantage of that.
SC: You played for Mike Leach at Texas Tech -- I'm up here in Seattle, and he's now at Washington State, so good for us, because he's definitely a character. But I also wanted to ask you about the spread offense -- and that's a nebulous term, because it can mean a lot of things at this point. The 2007 Patriots were the first NFL team we know of to run more than 50 percent of their plays from the shotgun. How have you seen the NFL meet that spread concept halfway, to be more inclusive of players who were in that system in college? That way, they don't just wash out in the NFL, because things are so different. Quarterbacks like Tim Tebow and Cam Newton are able to have more instant success because their offensive coordinators will integrate the things they can do with the more advanced NFL playbook.
WW: Yeah. If you look at a lot of their plays, it's not really a concept -- it's almost backyard football a lot of the time. Guys who are good athletes at the quarterback position can just run around and make plays, like Tebow and Cam and some of those different players. In Tom's case, it's very much a pinpoint -- everybody being on the same page, and everybody being able to distribute the ball quickly, and get it into the hands of our playmakers. It's a little bit different [with the Patriots], but we do try to play at a fast pace -- it's very impactful and extensive, and it's about everyone being on the same page.
SC: What do you think is the biggest misperception of Mike Leach? What's the one thing people don't know about him that they should know?
WW: Well, shoot -- I feel like they already know all the stuff about him. He always comes up with some sort of new concept every year. One year, it's pirates, and another year, it's buried treasure. He'll research one given field for a long time -- ships or whatever; he's all into that type of deal. He's a little different.
SC: What is the one thing above all that makes Tom Brady so good? It's not just that he's doing it now, but through all these different scheme changes -- with you and before you -- he just seems to be able to come up as one of the best quarterbacks no matter what. How is he able to do that?
WW: I think he just works harder than everybody else. From day one, since I've been there, he's just constantly working -- trying to get better, trying to do something to improve and play better. He's always looking for that edge.
SC: I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask you a couple of annoying questions -- first, about the dropped pass in Super Bowl XLVI. I wanted to get a sense from you about not how people reacted, but how your teammates reacted. Because you've been the reliable guy for so long -- how do they react when that doesn't happen?
WW: They've always been very supportive, and continue to be. Teammates are like the [Depend undergarments] -- they're supportive, and they stay on you pretty well.
SC: Nice! I like how you pitched that question back to the product. You are learning well.
WW: You like how I did that?
SC: You have a bright future in this business. Back to your current business, though ... The franchise tag with the Patriots -- how do you feel about playing a season through that. Obviously, you'd probably like to finish your career there -- as much as you can talk about it, where do things stand with you right now? Do you feel encouraged about your future with the team?
WW: Absolutely. I'm pretty certain I'll be playing there this next year, and I'm looking forward to that. Like everybody else, I'd like a long-term deal, but at the same time, I'm just focused on going out there and playing the best I can.
SC: Last question -- what is the one thing the Patriots need to do in the 2012 season to get the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since the 2004 season?
WW: What's the one thing? I just think everybody needs to wear Depend underpants. I think that will bring it home for us. Seriously, us just sticking together and playing together, and everybody going out there and making plays.