Former Patriots Star Wes Welker Blasts NFL’s ‘Bush League’ Decision on Disability Benefits

by Patrick Norton

Wes Welker played his way into the hearts of every NFL fanbase for which he played. Undrafted out of Texas Tech, Welker represents professional football’s version of Rudy. The receiver is five-foot-nothin’, 100 and nothin’, but unlike the fairytale retelling of Rudy Ruettiger’s collegiate career, Welker did possess a speck of athletic ability.

The gadget-turned-slot weapon spent six seasons with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and two with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. However, Welker never secured a Super Bowl championship over the span of his 12-season career.

But the greatest pain Welker suffers today remains the concussions riddled throughout his lengthy career. While no official tally exists, one 10-month stretch saw Welker diagnosed with three concussions.

Following his retirement from the league, Welker applied for disability benefits stemming from his injuries. However, the receiver revealed the league denied his claims and coverage. In a quick thread, Welker highlighted his disappointment with the system’s failure to provide protection for athletes suffering from irreversible damage.

Currently serving as the wide receivers coach for the Miami Dolphins, Welker posted an important and clarifying sentiment. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the principle,” reads the tweet. “I’m probably more emotional about it than most, [because] of what I went through with all of these injuries (I’m sure others feel the same). To say you don’t know if it happened playing football.”

Wes Welker’s Confirmed Concussions Raise Crippling Critique of League’s Safety Measures

Welker’s consistent and troubling history with head-on-head collisions is far from an anomaly in the NFL. And despite the league’s best efforts to reduce the blow, former players and active share a belief that the actual total of traumatic brain injuries is exceptionally high.

This season, the NFL introduced the mandated usage of Guardian Caps through the second week of the preseason in practice for specific positional groups. Linemen on both sides of the ball, tight ends and linebackers wore the marshmallow helmet-topper. And while the league claimed it could minimize head-to-head impact by 20%, players despised additional protection.

Meanwhile, Brett Favre recently claimed to have suffered thousands of concussions in his career. While the remark comes across as a bit outlandish, it does raise a critical thought on the protection of quarterbacks. When fans clamor that officials have a game rigged for a personal foul flag for a hit to the head, remember that in the view of the NFL, that penalty is protecting players from head trauma.