The NY Times football blog notes the lead up to the Divisional Playoffs was not the first time Rex Ryan and Wes Welker had a verbal exchange.
"We text back and forth and rip each other back and forth before we ever play," Ryan said. "That’s what we do. ‘Who’s going to be on me?’ ‘We’re going to put [Jets nose tackle] Sione Pouha on you.’
"But we have fun with each other. Trust me, we’ve said a lot worse to each other than what was reported. But I think he just went public with those comments, and that’s probably what upset Belichick."
I think this stuff generates a lot of attention because fans are so serious. For the competitors, though, it really is not much different from the way you and I trash talk with our friends playing a game of pickup basketball. We just do not have millions of fans following us.