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Wes Welker blasts NFL for rejecting disability claim suggesting injuries weren’t from playing football

Wes Welker

Former New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker earned a reputation during his NFL career for playing through pain and being a go-to target for quarterback Tom Brady. Years after his playing career ended, it seems the NFL isn’t sold on the thought that Welker’s injuries happened because of football.

Welker, an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech in 2004, battled for years to earn a role in an NFL offense. He totaled just 1,121 receiving yards in his first three seasons before landing in New England. It instantly changed his career, with the 5-foot-9 slot receiver recording a league-high 112 receptions with 1,175 receiving yards in his first year with the Patriots.

  • Wes Walker stats (career): 903 receptions, 9,924 receiving yards, 50 touchdowns

During an era when the NFL allowed a more physical brand of football, with receivers asked to put their bodies on the line going over the middle, Welker racked up a ton of stats and hits. From 2007-’12, he averaged 1,243 receiving yards and 112 receptions per season and experienced a myriad of injuries during that span.

According to Draft Sharks, Welker dealt with a groin strain (2008), a knee sprain (2009), an ACL tear (2010), an ankle sprain (2013) and a lower back sprain (2014). He also suffered multiple concussions and took countless hits to his knees, back and head during that run with the Patriots.

When Welker filed a disability claim through the NFL Players Association, though, a letter informed him the application was denied because Dr. Hussein Elkousy couldn’t rate the surgeries Welker received because they questioned whether the procedures and injuries were caused by football.


While the rejected claim offers Welker the opportunity to appeal if he can provide the necessary medical records, the assertion that the injuries weren’t a result of playing football stands out.

“Specifically, there were no records reflecting that the surgeries were performed as a result of injuries sustained while playing in the NFL.

NFL Players Association benefits coordinator Adrienen Thomas’ letter to Wes Welker denying his disability claims

However, it’s worth noting the league’s history. Until 2016, the NFL denied that there was a link between football and the degenerative brain disease known as CTE. It eventually resulted in a historic settlement, but reporting later discovered the NFL used a race-based formula that assumed black players had a lower level of cognitive function. As of 2012, the NFL no longer uses that approach.

Welker’s denied disability claim comes at a time when he is still working in the NFL. The 41-year-old served as the San Francisco 49ers wide receivers coach from 2019-’21 and now holds the same position with the Miami Dolphins.

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