DENVER — The Denver Broncos confirmed that Wes Welker suffered a concussion during Saturday night’s 18-17 loss to the Houston Texans, making it the slot receiver’s third concussion in the last 10 months.
Head coach John Fox did not offer a timetable for when Welker might return after the game, but Peyton Manning did offer an explanation regarding his “choice words” for D.J. Swearinger, the Texan whose hit led to Welker’s concussion.
Manning got in Swearinger’s face after throwing a touchdown pass just one play after Welker left the game, and was issued a 15-yard penalty for taunting.
“I think if you’re going to get (a penalty), that’s a good time to get one,” Manning said. “I’m obviously concerned about Wes and never like seeing him come out of the game with a potential blow to the head.”
Swearinger’s hit was deemed illegal, and after the game he said “I led with my shoulder.”
“He’s a short guy,” Swearinger said of Welker. “I led with my shoulder … and that’s all I can do on that play.”
Welker, who is now 33, suffered his first concussion of the 2013 season on Nov. 17 in a win over the Kansas City Chiefs and returned to play a week later. He suffered his second concussion on Dec. 9 in a win over the Tennessee Titans and didn’t return until the Broncos’ first playoff game on Jan. 12.
Welker played the entirety of the postseason with a heavily-padded helmet, and finished with 18 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown. That accompanied the 73 catches, 778 yards and 10 touchdowns that Welker compiled in his concussion-shorted regular season.
After Welker’s second concussion, Sports Illustrated columnist Jeff Pearlman wrote a well-publicized, impassioned and slightly obscene open letter to Welker, pleading with the Broncos’ receiver to retire.
“Wes, have you not been paying attention to the news on CTE and concussions and the hundreds upon hundreds of former NFL players who can’t remember their names; who wind up in assisted living communities, drinking strained peas through a straw?” Pearlman wrote. “These men, like you, believed in the (expletive) machismo code of the NFL, which dictates one plays hard and plays all the time — physical and mental damage be damned.”
Despite an increased focus on concussions in the past several seasons, Forbes reported that Welker’s concussion was the 59th suffered by an NFL player through three weeks of preseason games this year.
There is no official word about how many concussions Welker has suffered in his career. But he has been lauded throughout his career for his durability, having missed just four games in 10 years before joining the Broncos.