FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Wes Welker might've toed the company line a bit with his 11 foot references during a news conference in New England on Thursday, his subtle way of taking a few shots at Rex Ryan and trying to tweak the Jets' coach after his alleged role in a foot-fetish video.
But Bart Scott thinks Welker crossed that line. And the Jets linebacker has an important message for the wide receiver, whom the Jets will face in Sunday's AFC divisional game against the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.
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"I'll tell you what," Scott told Newsday on Friday. "Be very careful what you say about our coach. His [Welker's] days in a uniform will be numbered. Put it like that."
Welker got creative, finding different ways to bring up either feet or toes in a 10-minute chat with the media. It might not have been immediately obvious at the time, but it's apparent he was poking fun at Ryan, who had to endure that embarrassing episode last month.
Four videos surfaced on the Internet showing a barefoot woman who strongly resembles Ryan's wife, Michelle, talking about a foot fetish. In one particular video, the woman hangs her feet out of a pickup truck and is heard conversing with the cameraman - who sounds a lot like Ryan - and he tells her she "has really beautiful feet."
Ryan, for once, refused to engage in any smack talk. "I think this is a huge rivalry-type game and anything goes," he said. "I can take it. I'm not going to discuss it, but I can take it."
He wouldn't say if he thought Welker's comments were out of line. "I'm not getting into that," he said. "Anything goes this week. That's the way it is."
Welker wasn't about to get into it, either. The seventh-year veteran, who leads the Patriots with 86 receptions and 848 receiving yards, made an appearance in his team's locker room Friday and was asked to clarify his overuse of the word "foot'' a day earlier. But all he said was, "No. I spoke yesterday."
Antonio Cromartie was more than willing to chime in, though. The cornerback was the one who cranked up the rhetoric a notch earlier in the week when he had some choice words for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, using profane language to express his feelings about the two-time Super Bowl MVP. To Cromartie, Welker's creative approach in prodding Ryan was standard operating procedure.
"I know Rex probably looks at it like, 'Whatever,' " Cromartie told Newsday. "I mean, if you read in between the lines, a lot of what they say is directed toward us, but they try to clean it up. That's just like reading between the lines even when Brady said, 'Cromartie's a good corner, Darrelle Revis is a great corner.' Who gives a damn? They try to throw little stuff in like that."
That more than anything else is what burns Cromartie up. Sure, the Jets love to engage in brash talk and freely speak their mind. But he believes the Patriots can be chatty, too. They just aren't as blunt in the way they go about it.
"It's different, but they are doing the same thing," Cromartie said. "At the end of the day, it's trash-talking no matter how you try to put it, how you try to clean it up."
Cleaning crews may need to back a brigade of eighteen-wheelers onto the Gillette Stadium field Sunday to shovel all the trash that's sure to be left on it. But for now, Cromartie said it's time to put the lids back on the cans. "The talking is done," he said. "Sunday at 4:30, when the game starts and that thing kicks off, all the talking is going to be done. In between the lines, that's what it's all about, and I'm definitely looking forward to it, and being myself and going out and having fun.
"Being around the guys that are in this locker room, knowing that I'm playing for my brothers that are in this locker room, and my family that's in here, that's what it's all about."