Wes Welker speaks with the media Wednesday night. (WEEI.com photo)
CHESTNUT HILL — Wes Welker said he didn’t have any regrets about his departure from the Patriots, but did acknowledge there were some melancholy feelings when he returned to New England for an event Wednesday.
The wide receiver was in town as part of an event involving noted hair restoration expert Dr. Robert Leonard, who recently gave an assist to the follicly-challenged Welker. Talking with reporters, Welker said that he didn’t regret leaving the Patriots for the Broncos as a free agent in March, and added that there were no hard feeling between him and the franchise.
“Never any regrets. I think you go out there and play your game and you don’t really look back. In decisions and the way I play, I never want to have any regrets. So I never look back like that,” he said.
The 32-year-old Welker, who arrived in New England via a trade with the Dolphins prior to the start of the 2007 season, became the first receiver in NFL history in 2012 with at least five seasons of 100 or more receptions. Overall, in six seasons with the Patriots, he caught 672 passes for 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns.
However, in the days after Welker signed a new deal with Denver, there was a lot of debate about which contract was better, as representatives for the wide receiver disputed the claims put forth by New England and owner Robert Kraft.
But Welker, who surpassed 100 catches in five of his six seasons in New England, said Wednesday he doesn’t feel underappreciated for what he did with the Patriots,
“Unfortunately, it’s the business side of football,” he shrugged. “As a player, you don’t like [it], but you understand it. You just move on and look toward the future.”
Welker did confess to being “a little sad” being in the area on Wednesday while recalling some of the good times.
“Just because you had so many years here and it was such a great time and everything else. But you try and think about it too much and go on to the future and just hope for the best,” he said.
“It’s been great. I was walking around Boston and people were coming up and [saying], ‘Thank you for everything’ and stuff like that,” he added. “It’s been really cool to come back and see that. I was afraid maybe they might throw stones at me or something. They’ve been more than great to me. It’s been great to be able to come back.”
Welker was reticent to compare the environments in New England and Denver, saying both are “very competitive atmospheres. It’s all very tough. It’s hard to compare each other or find the differences or anything else.”
“It’s all the NFL,” he said. You just have to roll with whatever is there. I feel like I’m in a good situation, and I’m excited about it.”
In making the transition from the Patriots to the Broncos, Welker has the chance to go from one Hall of Fame quarterback to another in Tom Brady to Peyton Manning. One of the reasons Welker was so successful in New England was because of his chemistry with Brady. Welker said Wednesday he and Brady remain “very close,” and added that they still talk “every once and awhile.”
But Welker added that in the short time he’s been in Denver, it’s easy why the two quarterbacks have been as successful as they have over the course of their respective careers.
“They’re both professionals,” he said. “It’s obvious that they’re the best in the game and you get to see why they are the best — the way they study, the way they prepare and get ready. It speaks volumes as to why they are successful.”
Welker will get another chance to return to New England on Nov. 24 when the Patriots host the Broncos at Gillette.
“You have the whole season in front of you, so you’re always working towards trying to be at your best,” he said. “You definitely want to play your best at certain times — especially on Sundays — and I look forward to coming back and playing.
“I’ve enjoyed my time in Denver so far, and I’m really looking forward to the team we have there and what we might be able to accomplish.”