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Wes Welker's safety precaution brings out the thick-headed jokesters

The Denver Broncos' star receiver wore a bigger helmet last Sunday to provide some extra protection for his brain, which was concussed twice this season. Lots of folks have had a field day poking fun at the oversized hard hat sported by the native Oklahoman.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: January 15, 2014 at 7:10 pm •  Published: January 15, 2014
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Did the helmet help?

Sure didn't hurt.

Welker had six catches, one touchdown and no concussions against the Chargers.

So, basically, you have a player who's willing to do whatever he can to protect himself against the scourge of his sport and is successful in his efforts, but the public reaction is to compare him to Dark Helmet from “Space Balls”.

The jokes on Twitter even continued well after Welker and the Broncos advanced to this Sunday's AFC championship game against the Patriots.

“Wes Welker donates last night's helmet to Haiti to be used as a house for up to four people.”

“If the whole D wears the Welker helmet, how would Brady throw through that sea of bobbleheads?”

Here's a better question: “Why aren't more guys doing what Welker did?”

Part of the reason is in the reaction that he received. Who wants to be the butt of jokes? What athlete wants to come off as anything other than a macho, macho man?

Heck, Welker even poked fun at his own helmet, telling Denver-area media late last week, “It is kind of looking like ‘The Jetsons' out there.”

A few years ago, New York Mets slugger David Wright wore a bigger, more protective batting helmet after suffering a concussion. Teasing from his teammates began immediately. A picture of the Great Gazoo, the green alien with the oversized helmet who made an occasional appearance in “The Flintstones” cartoons, was even tacked on Wright's locker in the clubhouse.

He eventually ditched the helmet, saying it was because it didn't fit right.

“It's just not comfortable,” he said.

Bet the teasing wasn't very comfortable either.

Here's hoping Welker is getting a better reception from his teammates. Maybe the guys who are first-hand witnesses to the ugliness of concussions have a different opinion. Maybe the men who put their brains on the line every Sunday realize this isn't a joking matter.

Trying to avoid a brain injury never looks ridiculous.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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