ORLANDO — We live in a society where sometimes we are too sensitive and politically correct, and sometimes we are not thoughtful enough, or even reckless.
We live in a NFL world that suddenly has intersected with culture and society and politics like maybe never before.
And sometimes, it’s just football.
Sometimes, we compare new Dolphins wide receiver Danny Amendola (a former Patriots and Texas Tech standout) with former Dolphins wide receiver Wes Welker (a former Patriots and Texas Tech standout) because the similarities are too great not too.
Sometimes, coach Adam Gase compares Amendola to Welker because he sees their skill sets as similar and how they fit into his offensive scheme as similar. And that’s perfectly fine.
There will always be people who see any white wide receiver compared to another, and suggest that it is lazy. There will always be people who see any black quarterback compared to another, and suggest that it is lazy.
And for sure, that can be true.
It makes much more sense to try to compare the height, weight, speed, skill set, statistics, strengths and weaknesses of quarterbacks and wide receivers to the entire pool of former players who have played that position, and yes, even think outside the box, and if possible, include a player or players who doesn’t happen to be the same race.
That would be an example of not being lazy. But if height, weight, speed, skill set, statistics, strengths and weaknesses lead a scout to compare Amendola to Welker, or yes, even Lamar Jackson to Michael Vick, so be it.
Vick recently called Jackson “the spitting image” of Vick and of course, nobody would take issue with that remark.
If it’s well-informed opinion, based on research, than such comparisons are not lazy.
I once spoke with former Dolphins wide receiver Griff Whalen, who is white. And Whalen said that he believes an accurate skill comparison for him is Doug Baldwin, the NFL receiver who is black.
“When guys are coming out of college, if they’re white, they’re compared to Welker or whoever, regardless of what they run their 40 in,” Whalen said. “They get described as ‘sneaky athletic’ or you know, whatever it may be.”
We suggested then that it could, in fact, be lazy, to compare Whalen to Welker or Julian Edelman, or Wayne Chrebet, or any other white wide receiver, without having the ammunition required to support such a comparison.
We can say here, without any trepidation, that comparing Amendola to Welker is completely fair.
Because many people who have studied (and coached) both players, suggest that comparison is completely fair.
Nearly five years ago, Welker left New England for Denver (to be coached by then-Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase). The man chosen to replace Welker was Amendola.
Then, former Palm Beach Post reporter Ben Volin (Is it fair to compare me and Volin? I kid.) wrote a good story comparing the two for the Boston Globe.
In that story, Volin most notably quotes Mike Leach, who coached both players at Texas Tech, about their similarities.
Leach said both players, who went undrafted out of college, are tough, gritty and intelligent.
“(Danny’s) real quick, he’s really explosive, he’s one of the most dependable players ever,” Leach said. “And if you’ve got to replace Wes Welker, Danny’s the guy to do it with, no question.”
Amendola had some significant and memorable catches for the Patriots in playoff games, including Super Bowls. But due mostly to injuries and the emergence of some other wide receivers, he did not reach the overall statistical success of Welker in New England.
“I think Danny fits into this system probably really well,” Gase said this week. “When we started this thing, we had Wes (Welker). He kind of originated that position up in New England. By getting (Amendola), we have the type of offense that really fits him.”
Gase added that he believes that Amendola may have the same positive impact on young receivers that Welker once had in Denver.
“I think it will be good for our guys to see how he works, how he does meetings and how he goes about his business,” Gase said. “I remember when we signed Wes in Denver, that was one of the biggest things that he did was when our young guys saw him practice, they were shocked because they couldn’t believe how hard he went and how fast he did everything. There was no half speed or take this play off. It just didn’t exist. He was full speed all the time.”
It may have been a bit annoying for Amendola to be asked about Welker all the time in New England.
But ten years ago, Amendola said this about Welker: “From when I first got here, it was ‘Wes Welker, Jr.’ Being the shorter white guy who played hard, made little plays, and being a punt returner as well, you couldn’t help but draw comparisons. I admire the way he plays. He’s a mile a minute. He’s always moving. He’s always doing something. That’s what I try to pattern my game after — keep working, keep working hard.”
This is one comparison nobody ever needs to apologize for. And the Dolphins can only hope that, in the end, Amendola lives up to it.