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Wes Welker rips into the NFL after being denied LOD

The four-time All-Pro and five-time Pro-Bowler rips into the NFL after being denied Line Of Duty disability benefits by the league

The four-time All-Pro and five-time Pro-Bowler rips into the NFL after being denied Line Of Duty disability benefits by the league
Mike EhrmannAFP

Wes Welker was the very definition of a football player. A man’s man who played through the pain. Tom Brady loved to pick him out in coverage and the ex-New England Patriot went to the Pro-Bowl four times and was an All-Pro five times.

His grinding career paid dividends, winning him plaudits that include the four highest single-season reception totals in Patriots’ history, four of the top 10 receiving yardage totals, and the franchise record. With the franchise record for most receptions in a single game, the most receiving yards in a single game, the longest reception, and career receptions, Welker is considered one of the greatest undrafted players in NFL history.

All of that glory came with a steep price tag, though. He suffered a groin strain in 2008, a knee sprain in 2009, an ACL tear in 2010, an ankle sprain in 2013, and a lower back sprain in 2014. Added to multiple concussions and countless hits taken to his knees, back and head, even Iron Man has a breaking point.

According to NFL Players Association rules, he should be due some form of disability payment for the long-term pain that he must live with, but when he applied, his application was rejected on the basis that Dr Hussein Elkousy could not confirm whether his surgeries and procedures were as a result of playing football or not.

Patently absurd, Welker wasted no time in blasting the NFL’s decision on social media, tweeting that the decision was “bush league.”

The league has a very checkered history with this type of claim, denying until 2016, despite all the proof presented, that degenerative brain injury CTE was connected in any way to playing football. Until 2012, the league uses a race-based formula to calculate disability payments that assumed black players had a lower level of cognitive function than their white counterparts, and were therefore due less money in compensation.

While those despicable policies are no longer part of the NFL, the league’s reluctance to admit fully their role in profiting from the injuries suffered by players, and more importantly the dereliction of their duty of care to those same players, has left few feeling sorry for the multi-billion dollar corporation.

Welker is still employed by the NFL as a Wide Receivers Coach for the Miami Dolphins and the risk that he is taking by so publicly disputing the decision is not to be underestimated. He has devoted his life to the game, in a very literal sense, and stands to lose it all if the league decides to become vindictive. It is hoped that cooler heads will prevail, and that the NFL drags itself out of the bush league. Then maybe we can talk about all of the less-well-known players who have had their claims denied as well.


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