BOSTON – New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker says he regrets comments he made referring to foot-fetish reports involving New York Jets coach Rex Ryan.
"Yeah, sure I do," he told the Boston Herald, according to a report on the newspaper's website Tuesday.
The Herald said Welker expressed his regret at an airport in San Francisco while awaiting his flight to Honolulu for the Pro Bowl on Sunday.
At a news conference on Jan. 13, three days before the Jets beat the Patriots 28-21 in a divisional playoff game, Welker made about a dozen references to toes and feet, a not-so-subtle dig at Ryan. Patriots coach Bill Belichick benched Welker for the first offensive series of that game.
In the week before the game, the Jets' Antonio Cromartie used an expletive in referring to the Patriots' Tom Brady.
Welker told the Herald that it's sometimes tough to keep from responding to opponents' remarks.
"It's not always easy to keep a lid on it," he said, "but, at the same time, there's a greater goal, and that's winning the game and playing good football. That's what matters. All that other stuff doesn't matter at the end of the day."
Welker was on the field as a punt returner on the Jets' first series but sat out the Patriots first possession despite having led them with 86 catches this season. CBS said during the game broadcast that he was benched for his comments three days before the game.
Asked at his postgame news conference why Welker was on the bench, Belichick said, "I don't have any comment on that."
Welker told the Herald he didn't want to go into details, but "I don't think it's worth putting coach in that situation," he said. "So in a sense, I do regret it. ... As much as you might want to get enticed into that stuff, at the end of the day, it's just not worth it."
Among phrases Welker used during his pregame news conference were, "putting your best foot forward," ''sticking your toe in the water" and "being good little foot soldiers."
He told the Herald "the best way to stick up for your teammate is on the field."