Denver Broncos slot receiver Wes Welker has returned to practice, less than two weeks after suffering his third concussion in ten months. He hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that may be a mere formality in the NFL, where the head in the sand mentality is a constant when it comes to traumatic brain injuries.
Someone has to step in and suggest to Welker that he take a couple months off, at least. Welker is not going to do it. How about Peyton Manning or John Fox? Both are presumably decent human beings, who care more about Welker than a slightly improved chance of winning a football game.
Local columnists are doing their part.
“Last season, Welker raised eyebrows by returning from his first concussion, suffered on Nov. 17 against the Kansas City Chiefs, just a week later to face off against the New England Patriots in Foxboro,” wrote Zach Fogg, a columnist with Mile High Sports. “The Broncos were 9-1 at the time and there was little to be gained for Welker by returning early, aside from the opportunity to face off against his former team. The risk vastly outweighed the reward.
“When he suffered another concussion a few weeks later, those fears were vindicated.”
“This time around, more than a few pragmatic members of Broncos nation are asking that Welker consider his long-term health. They’re saying that it’s time for the best slot receiver in the history of the NFL to retire.”
Fogg went on to question Fox’ commitment to the concept of family.
“(W)hat does Fox always tell the media about this team? They’re a family. He loves that word, uses it all the time when talking about the Broncos. Heck, he even worked it into his talking points about Matt Prater’s DUI .
“But if the Broncos are truly the family they claim to be, they’ll consider sitting Welker down and talking to him about his health. That’s what a real family would do.
“What’s more, they should go a step further and back up their words: They should tell Welker that they cannot, in good conscience, continue to send him out onto the gridiron to take another traumatic hit to the head. They should be willing to cut him to make him either consider retirement, or uproot his family to find another place to play.”
“A colleague asked me a hypothetical question this week: Could John Fox live with himself if he put Welker back on the field and an ensuing concussion left the receiver with permanent brain damage, mental illness or, perhaps even worse, in a wheelchair?
“If Welker continues his career in the NFL, it shouldn’t be on the Broncos’ watch. He should retire, but short of that, Denver should not be responsible for allowing him to continue damaging his health.”
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