, Newburyport, MA


January 29, 2014

Welker, Harvin and the pain of football

NEWARK, N.J. — Wes Welker ditched the orange suit for media day, much as he did comparisons between the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks he’s had the privilege of catching passes from.

The stuff about concussions wasn’t so easy, especially since the big helmet he now wears to protect his head will stick out in the Super Bowl just as much as the orange suit he had on getting off the plane on arrival here.

“I get a lot of tweets about my big helmet and how ridiculous I look,” Welker said. “But it feels good and seems to work. I haven’t had a concussion since wearing it.”

That’s only been two games, so it’s not quite time to declare the oversized helmet a cure-all just yet. But after suffering two concussions in the space of three weeks late in the season, it seems to offer a bit of comfort for a small receiver who makes his living catching balls across the middle.

Not that Welker needs that much. He spent six years as Tom Brady’s favorite go-to target, and the last two on the receiving end of passes from Peyton Manning. He’s also played in two Super Bowls, tying the big game record of 11 receptions in a single game in the New England Patriots’ 17-14 loss to the New York Giants after the 2007 season.

But at a time when the effects of repeated concussions on players in later life are just becoming known, Welker seems relatively unconcerned about what playing football in the NFL will mean for his future.

“A little bit, but not really,” he said. “I enjoy the game so much and being around my teammates. I really don’t think about all the other stuff.”

Neither does fellow receiver Percy Harvin, who missed almost the entire regular season for the Seattle Seahawks with a hip injury only to return for the playoffs and be knocked out in the divisional-round game against New Orleans with a concussion.

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