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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady might not watch "Hard Knocks" because of his "hate" for the New York Jets, but one of his favorite receivers isn't operating from the same playbook.
Count Wes Welker as a fan of the show.
|Unlike teammate Tom Brady, Wes Welker admits to watching -- and enjoying -- the Jets on "Hard Knocks."|
"I thought it was pretty funny and pretty amusing," he said. "It's how I expected it to be."
Welker's interest hasn't been sparked in discovering how the Jets operate, but instead in seeing whether one of his best friends from Texas Tech -- now an assistant on the Jets' coaching staff -- is part of the show. Welker said he caught one of the first two episodes and plans to watch the entire series at some point.
Fraternizing with the enemy? Not exactly, although Welker was in the minority among teammates Monday, most of whom said they haven't watched "Hard Knocks" this season.
The reason the HBO series was a topic of discussion was because of Brady, who set off a minor firestorm with his remarks to sports radio WEEI on Monday morning. Few things seem to get a bigger rise out of media types than the Patriots/Jets rivalry, especially on a dreary Monday with few juicy storylines presenting themselves. So Brady was feeding the wolves when he said: "I haven't turned it on. I hate the Jets, so I refuse to support that show."
Brady's words created a predictable response from Jets coach Rex Ryan, who seldom, if ever, shies away from a verbal sparring match.
"He knows we hate the Patriots. So what's the difference?" Ryan shot back. "My brother's got a couple Super Bowl rings [from his time as a Patriots assistant]. He loves Tom Brady. But I don't have them, so I don't like Tom Brady. I respect him, but I don't like him."
Truth be told, no other Patriots were willing to jump into the fray. Football might be the ultimate team sport, but Brady's teammates were going to let the quarterback fight this battle on his own.
"We just can't focus on what they're doing on TV, we have to focus on what they're doing on Sundays," outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain said.
In the Jets' locker room, players didn't seem offended by Brady's comments. Center Nick Mangold struck an understanding tone, saying, "It's part of the excitement of games -- you dislike the other team. I don't expect him to be sitting there with a bowl of popcorn enjoying the show every Wednesday."
Welker might not have had the popcorn, but forgive him for not going along with the hate-the-Jets script, saying, "For the most part, it's pretty entertaining."
Welker might be the only Patriot with that point of view. Most others said they haven't been compelled to tune in, and that includes coach Bill Belichick. While lauding any work produced by NFL Films, Belichick said he hasn't seen this year's show.
"I missed it," he said. "I don't even know when it's on."
Belichick acknowledged that he would probably see parts of it in time, perhaps before Sept. 19, when the teams meet for the first time this season. Given Belichick's motivational tactics from the past, it wouldn't be surprising if highlights from the show find their way into the Patriots' meeting room.
Maybe the most humorous aspect of the "Hard Knocks" chatter Monday was when Patriots players were presented the scenario of having the show come to New England. There were predictable smiles, knowing that Belichick would probably never sign off on it.
"I don't think that's a possibility," Banta-Cain said.
And if it was?
"I don't think it would be very entertaining," Welker cracked. "That's for sure."Information from ESPNNewYork.com was used in this report. Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.