On the heels of his third concussion in 10 months, Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker has been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s drug policy. According to reports, Welker took ecstasy laced with amphetamines at the Kentucky Derby, where he began handing out $100 bills after a Churchill Downs cashier mistakenly overpaid him almost $15,000 in winnings.
“I haven’t heard specifically (which drug) it was; I’m just hearing it secondhand, honestly,” DenverBroncos.com columnist Andrew Mason said on Ferrall on the Bench. “But certainly if you look back at the way he was giving away money, some of that’s very impulsive behavior. It’s not something you would expect from anybody. So I think there’s a lot of putting two-and-two together.”
Mason will be at Broncos headquarters Wednesday to get a reaction from the team, but if he wants a reaction from Denver fans, he can just go on Twitter – and he has.
“I think people are a bit angry,” he said. “Looking at the timeline on Twitter, seeing people talk about Wes Welker, people are upset with him.”
Denver opens the season at home against Indianapolis and Kansas City, plays Seattle on the road, has a bye and then hosts Arizona. Welker would not be eligible to return until Week 6 against the Jets on Oct. 12.
It’s important to remember that Welker is still recovering from his Aug. 23 concussion. He has been cleared to practice but not play, so it’s unknown whether he would have been available this Sunday even without the drug suspension.
While Welker is extremely valuable, the Broncos averaged 30 points and 360 passing yards in the three games he missed last season. They also resigned Andre Caldwell, signed Emmanuel Sanders and drafted Cody Latimer, as Welker’s contract expires after this year.
“It seems like they’ve been planning for life without Wes Welker in case the concussion thing happened,” Mason said. “And now it looks like they’re going to face that – just for different reasons.”
If Welker did, in fact, take ecstasy, expect him to be in John Elway’s dog house for quite some time.
“I can’t imagine the team is very happy with him at this point, to say the least,” Mason said. “And remember: This is an organization that just a year ago dealt with Von Miller being suspended for six games for a substance-abuse violation and also had a couple of executives get DUIs. So certainly when you have this on top of that, the perception is one that is going to be pretty negative inside and outside the building.”
Welker joins kicker Matt Prater as the latest Bronco suspended for four games for violating the substance-abuse policy.
“He had a DUI back in 2011,” Mason said of Prater. “That put him into the NFL’s substance-abuse program, and if you got a DUI, you cannot have a positive test for alcohol. Otherwise you’re going to have a suspension. So whether he had a few drinks or whether he was actually getting drunk . . . (you’re going to) get a positive test. So he’s going to have to have that come-to-Jesus moment and realize that if he wants to save his career, he can’t drink again.”