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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Wes Welker wore a bigger helmet last Sunday to provide some extra protection for his brain, which was concussed twice this season.

The reaction?

Bwahaha!

Lots of folks had a field day poking fun at the oversized hard hat sported by the native Oklahoman when he and his Denver teammates played San Diego. As it is wont to do, the Twittersphere was particularly quick to quip.

“Wes Welker's helmet is big enough to fit Peyton Manning's forehead in it.”

“Wes Welker is currently wearing a size XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXL helmet.”

“Can't get enough of Welker's ‘Pablo Sanchez from Backyard Football' helmet.”

And we wonder why football is having such a hard time getting a handle on its concussion problem.

During the same week that a federal judge rejected the proposed settlement of the NFL concussion lawsuit because she worries that $765 million won't be enough to cover all of the effected players, the reaction to Welker's helmet is just another reminder of the struggle going on in this tough-guy sport. Executives, coaches, players and fans say that they want to get a handle on concussions, but then a player who's had a brain injury tries to do something to protect himself and is chastised.

Welker, the former Heritage Hall standout, suffered a concussion in mid-November during a game against Kansas City. After passing the league's concussion protocol tests and being cleared to play, he returned to the lineup the next week.

But a couple weeks later on Dec. 8, he suffered another concussion in a game against Tennessee.

He missed the Broncos' final three regular-season games and was cleared for full football activity only last week.

After having two concussions in three weeks, Welker and the Broncos went looking for a little more protection for his head. They opted for Riddell's 360 helmet. The equipment maker considers that model its top-of-the-line helmet. It has been on the market for two years, but according to people who know about such things, very few NFL players use it.

Apparently, it's not unusual for NFL players to wear the exact same helmet their entire careers. Some have even used the same helmet from college through the pros.

But Welker and the Broncos decided it best for him to have the most advanced technology available to shield his brain. Then, he reportedly wore one size bigger so the helmet could be fitted with a special insert that might've included impact sensors.

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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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