Saving face. It’s all the rage with people like journalists, leaders of third-world countries, leaders of domesticated countries – hell, politicians of any sort – contestants on Hell’s Kitchen…
…and apparently slot receivers and their agents.
At the NFL meetings in Phoenix yesterday, former New England Patriots’ slot receiver Wes Welker’s agent David Dunn was asked the tough question, and he responded in typical political fashion.
When asked why, if his client wanted to play for a winning team, he didn’t just play along with the contract that Welker was offered by the Patriots last season of 2 years $16 million, he pulled a Richard Nixon, claiming it never happened.
Dunn refuted criticism that he misread the market for Welker, lashing back at critics by claiming that New England had never offered his client that contract, just signing him to the Franchise Tag and never planning on him being a Patriot past last season.
Well, Dave, that ain’t the question…the question is, if Welker said he wanted to play for a winning team, and you had that $8 million a year contact sitting on the break room table at Gillette Stadium, why did you shop him around? Why did you have Welker defer to the next off-season?
Dunn wasn’t very detailed in his response, but this morning at the NFL Owners meetings Bob Kraft was, and he was pulling no punches. You see, in essence, Dunn was saying that Kraft lied – and Kraft responded with candor and, yes, class.
“You know, everyone in our organization wanted Wes Welker back. Anyone who doubts that, or thinks we weren’t serious, just doesn’t get it.” Kraft began, “But I really believe in this case, his agents misrepresented, in their mind, what his market value was. When you come right down to the bottom line, he accepted a deal in Denver which is less money than what we offered him.”
And to his credit, Kraft went on to qualify that statement with numbers, then continued.
“When free agency came, and his agents kept on insisting on a very high number that was beyond our number, we had to go work alternatives. Our second alternative was Danny Amendola. He had offers from other teams. So we made a judgment that Wes, unfortunately probably wouldn’t be with us. We made this commitment to Amendola.”
“Wednesday, I personally got a call from Wes and he told me about this offer from Denver. He called Bill as well. We met and we chatted. If he had called one day earlier, he would have been with us. And so that, is the Wes Welker story. I’m very sad about it and I wish he would have been with our team.”
The Patriots’ owner went on to say that if there was just a $2 million dollar gap to get a deal done with Welker, he would have covered it in no time flat. “It was a substantial gap, way beyond (that). If he had come to us and said ‘the gap was the $2 million’ – which on the surface everyone believes that’s what it is – that would have been closed in a second.”
He continued, “And I think in the last 19 years, I’m pretty proud that we have the best won-loss record of any team in the NFL. In 19 years, we’ve gone to six Super Bowls. I think our modus operandi has been OK. On the other hand, I think this is a situation that we really wanted to happen with Wes and it’s very unfortunate.”
“But” a reporter asked, “There has been a persistent contention by David Dunn that there was never an offer.”
A dark cloud appeared and settled over Kraft’s head – Mother of God, here it comes…
He paused, staring down the reporter for a brief moment, then, “Did you hear what I said?”
The reporter nodded and said yes, then Kraft: “OK, there was an offer, and that’s just bogus.”
“Correct,” replied the reporter, taking a bit less contentious tone, “and that’s my question. Why would they continue to make that claim?”
“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him.” Kraft snapped back, clearly irked by the reporter’s continued questioning. “You seem to have a good relationship talking with him, so why doesn’t he fill you in what he means? Because it just isn’t true.”
Kraft fielded a few more questions, and even managed to bring a diplomatic tone back to the impromptu presser that was threatening to turn very ugly, but stayed committed to his message, even went into more detail than anyone can recall in recent memory – perhaps in an effort to make certain that his message could not be misunderstood, but delivered with such class that it’s difficult to surmise that Dunn understood it at all…
…finishing with a monologue that summarized everything that he said in anger, but in a more magnanimous fashion, even managing to get one more wicked nice shot in on Dunn.
“Let me say it again clearly – we wanted him, and we were willing to pay him slightly above what we believed his market value to be, and in fact, what it is. We in fact did it. If you look at what he accepted, and what was out there. The unfortunate part, the agent is playing poker with us, we have to decide. Are we going to be left completely naked here? Or do we go out and do the best job we can do to fill that position with the information we have available to us? And that’s what we did. Time will tell what was right.”
Indeed, time will tell. But in the interim, this war of words isn’t over, as Kraft seems to be particularly steamed. It is this kind of he said/she said stuff that Kraft and coach Bill Belichick has been successful keeping out of the locker room, but this entire “Welker Situation” is threatening to disrupt that – and Kraft is taking exception.
You see, Bob Kraft can put up with a lot. He’s a patient man, he’s a loyal man. His work has brought a better life to others less fortunate through his philanthropy and has brought championships to a franchise that was a doormat for most of their existence before he bought the team. He left his gravely ill Wife’s bedside to kick a bunch of lawyers out to the curb and hammer out an agreement that ended the NFL lockout before the 2011 season.
The man deserves respect, no matter how you feel about the Patriots. He is an honest man, and the one thing that you never do to Bob Kraft is to question his integrity – and David Dunn has done just that by trying to save face out of the mess he caused…and if he thinks he had problems before, now he’s drawn the ire of the second most powerful man in the NFL, which puts him on a level even lower than certain fax-ignorant agent for Elvis Dumervil, because Dunn did it purposely.
And the stench of the sewer mist that he has all over him is something that’s going to be hard to explain to any potential clients, along with how he twisted himself in so many different angles to try and weasel out of blame for the Welker situation that he needs the help of a couple of interns just to screw his pants on in the morning.
In other words, he’s no longer credible – or at least not nearly as credible as he was, and is now the scourge of New England (as if he wasn’t already)…and being on Bob Kraft’s black list can’t be helpful either.
You screwed it up, David Dunn. The least you could do is admit it and show a bit of ownership of your actions instead of questioning the integrity of the man who saved the New England Patriots and the entire National Football League.
Why, if it weren’t for Bob Kraft, you wouldn’t be getting paid because there would be no contracts to negotiate – so in essence, you’ve bitten the hand that feeds you, and that’s never a good idea.