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Wes Welker: Leaving Tom Brady for Broncos was hard

Anyone expecting a scorched Earth approach from Wes Welker on his way out of New England can keep waiting. The wide receiver had only nice things to say about the Patriots during his introductory news conference with the Denver Broncos.

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The first thing out of Welker's mouth Thursday was a thank-you to the Patriots for everything they did for him in his six seasons. He made it clear it wasn't easy to leave New England.

"Yeah, that was definitely the hardest part was leaving Tom (Brady)," Welker said. "He's a great competitor, great player, great friend across the board. So I wish the best to him."

Welker said he only wanted to play for two teams, presumably the Broncos or Patriots. (This supports a report that he turned down more money from the Tennessee Titans.) Welker was asked at one point how John Elway, the Broncos' executive vice president of football operations, sold him on Denver.

"I was probably the one pitching to (Elway)," Welker said. "Trying to make this happen and everything."

It was a strange, surreal news conference. Despite the countless reports about the lack of respect he felt from the Patriots, Welker didn't publicly convey any animosity.

"Everything was on good terms," Welker said about his relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "I feel like everything was good. Any time you are a competitor, you are going to clash at times. But overall we always had a great relationship. Everything's on good terms. I have no ill feelings or anything else."

Welker said he's "looking forward" to playing the Patriots in New England next season. I'm looking forward to watching that. From Patriots-Ravens to Patriots-Broncos and Ravens-Steelers, the AFC suddenly is loaded with meaningful rivalries.

Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady is annually great. Now we get a delicious subplot.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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