NEWARK, N.J. -- Gisele Bundchen is worth tens of millions of dollars. Not a dime of that is based on her football insight.
But Mrs. Tom Brady nonetheless weighed in infamously in the moments immediately following the Patriots’ brutal loss in Super Bowl 46.
“My husband can not [expletive] throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can’t believe they dropped the ball so many times,” Bundchen said in a video captured by a gossip website.
Bunchden didn’t name names, but there’s little doubt who she meant. Wes Welker, her husband’s buddy and security blanket, couldn’t haul in a crucial late pass, a miscue that directly led to the team’s loss.
Fast forward two years, and Bundchen might be cursing for another reason. The Brady Bunch is at home. Welker, the smallest man on the Denver Broncos, is a big reason why.
Welker, whose 841 catches rank in the top 25 all-time, has been cut, traded and discarded (not to mention heckled by football’s most famous wife). It’s no coincidence, however, that Welker is back for his third Super Bowl, and teams that moved on from him are not.
Now back on the league’s ultimate stage, Welker will try to make amends for losses in his two previous Super Bowls — even if he couldn’t bring himself to admit it at the annual Media Day circus Tuesday.
“The past is the past,” Welker said. “I had one game where I set a record for catches in a Super Bowl (11, in Super Bowl 42) and then I had another one where it didn’t work out as I expected. So, you just go out there and you play the best you can and whatever happens from there, happens.”
For the Dolphins and their fans, such disappointment would be a welcome improvement.
See, while Welker has been to the title game three times since his trade from Miami to New England in 2007, the Dolphins have reached the playoffs just once in that stretch — and were one and done.
The Patriots shipped second- and seventh-round picks to Miami for Welker, which the Dolphins used on Samson Satele and Abraham Wright — neither of whom were on the roster two years later.
Welker, meanwhile, went from an undersized and underused gadget player to a fringe Hall of Fame candidate. In his six years with the Patriots, Welker averaged 112 catches per season. Sports Illustrated recently called it the 15th-worst trade in league history.
The Dolphins have cycled through eight starting quarterbacks since then. Welker has played for two all-time greats — Brady and Peyton Manning.
Still, Welker took the high road Tuesday when asked about his time in Miami — and the Dolphins’ decision to trade him.
“Obviously it meant a lot,” Welker said of his three years with the Dolphins. “The more experience you can get, the better off you’re going to be and definitely getting those three years in Miami and really trying to develop my game and get better definitely helped me.”
That development blossomed into stardom with the Patriots, but after six years, Bill Belichick decided to move on. The breakup wasn’t exactly amicable, with the Patriots’ coach basically calling Welker dirty after a hit in this year’s AFC Championship Game.
Not coincidentally, Welker on Tuesday made it a point to call that Broncos’ win one of the most gratifying of his career.
“Wes is one of the toughest guys around,” said Tyke Tolbert, Denver’s receivers coach. “I think he’s probably been told his whole life, ‘You’re too small, you’re too slow, you’re too this, you’re too that.’
“He’s had to go out there and prove everybody wrong every time,” Tolbert continued.
Added Broncos coach John Fox: “He was voted team captain, and I don’t care who you are, coming to a new team, new teammates, that doesn’t happen very easily. It says a lot to the kind of guy he is, both on and off the field.”
About the only thing that has stopped Welker over the past seven seasons is his health. He sustained two concussions this fall, missing five consecutive games.
Welker returned for the playoffs, wearing an oversized helmet that spawned a 1,000 Twitter jokes. Some have wondered if his career might be winding down. When asked Tuesday if he will return for another season, he said, “I think so.”
He also implied that he would play in the Super Bowl even with a concussion, a confession which surely made neurologists wince nationwide — not to mention NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“You want to be out there,” Welker said. “It’s Super Bowl. This is what you dream about. You’re going to be there. I don’t care what it takes. You’re going to be out there in this game.”