Before turning Deebo Samuel into an All-Pro caliber wide receiver and helping spark a new flame inside Brandon Aiyuk for the San Francisco 49ers, Wes Welker was lauded for his speed, grit and production in helping revolutionize the slot wide receiver position.
With his production came an injury toll — one that involved knee injuries including a torn ACL and MCL with the former requiring surgery.
Now at 41 and coaching receivers in the league, one would think Welker would qualify for the league’s disability plan. But instead, the five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro with the New England Patriots put the league on blast on the morning of Saturday, August 27.
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‘Bush League Stuff’
Welker, now the WR coach for former 49ers offensive coordinator turned Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, released a written letter he received from the league.
In the letter, the NFL informed Welker that his request was tabled by the league — stating he needed to provide more medical records after applying for a line-of-duty disability benefit, better known as “LOD.”
“The committee noted that Dr. Hussein Elkousy was unable to rate your various surgeries due to a lack of supportive documentation within your records,” the letter to Welker read. “Specifically, there were no records reflecting that the surgeries were performed as a result of injuries sustained while playing in the NFL.”
The note to Welker continued with: “The committee therefore tabled your LOD application to request additional medical records to substantiate that your injuries and resulting surgeries arose out of league football activities.”
Welker, however, didn’t mince words when he took to Twitter to release the letter he received and calling out the NFL.
“I don’t have the time or patience for this. Been an employee of the NFL for 18 years and still going. This is bush league stuff!” Welker tweeted.
Welker wasn’t through, clarifying that his stance has nothing to do with earning more compensation.
“It’s not about the money, it’s about the principle,” Welker tweeted. “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).”
Welker’s Injury History
Again, the 903 career receptions Welker hauled in according to Pro Football Reference including five 100-catch seasons came with a toll for Welker.
Welker’s NFL injury history dates back to April 2008, when he had a grade 2 groin strain that eventually got him to miss eight training camp days. Then in September of 2009, he sustained a grade 1 knee strain that forced him to miss two games.
January 3, 2010 was the date of his ACL and MCL tear — with his ACL being categorized as a grade 3 tear. According to hopkinsmedicine.org, Grade 3 ACL tears happen “when the ACL is torn completely in half and is no longer providing any stability to the knee joint.”
Concussions later surfaced in his career with three between the time frame of December 8, 2013 to August 23, 2014.
Welker with the 49ers
Welker spent three seasons with the 49ers on Kyle Shanahan’s staff. His first season was during the 49ers’ NFC title run to Super Bowl 54. His receivers were responsible for 17 of the 49ers’ 26 touchdown passes in 2021.
Welker wound up taking the open WR coach spot with the Dolphins on the eve of Super Bowl 56. Samuel told Heavy back on February 11 that Welker told him he was leaving and praised the hire.
“I had already knew. I had already talked to him,” Samuel said. “He had already called me before it (the news) hit the fan. I think it’s great for both of those guys. Especially for Mike and the head job and Wes going over there. It’s another opportunity for him. I wish the best for both of them.”