Wes Welker will have at least four more weeks to rest his head following his latest concussion scare last month.
Welker, the former Patriots star now playing for the Broncos, has been suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, according to reports.
Welker, 33, tested positive for the party drug MDMA, otherwise known as Molly, according to a report from ProFootballTalk. Welker took the drug, which is made with amphetamines that are flagged by the NFL, while attending the Kentucky Derby in May and tested positive shortly thereafter.
Per the NFL Network, Welker appealed the suspension and lost. Welker’s suspension will start immediately and end well before the Broncos visit New England in Week 9.
This is Welker’s first suspension in his 12-year NFL career, and it’s possible this was his first failed drug test. Per the NFL’s drug policy, as spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement, players earn an automatic four-game suspension for a first positive test for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, including the amphetamines found in Welker’s system.
A second positive results in an eight-game suspension, and a third positive is a year-long ban.
Players not in the drug program are tested randomly just once per year between April and August. Once in the drug program, though, players are subject to up to 10 random tests per month, including the offseason.
The policy for recreational drugs is more lenient — a player must test positive three times before receiving a suspension. But the drugs in Welker’s system fall under performance-enhancers, not recreational.
Welker, who spent six seasons in New England before leaving for Denver in a bitter contract dispute before last season, will lose 4/17ths of his $3 million salary, or approximately $705,882.
Welker’s situation is similar to that of Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick, who also said his suspension was the result of taking Molly while on vacation in Mexico.
Welker, who attends the Derby annually along with Tom Brady and several other Patriots, had a big weekend this year. Welker owns several racehorses, and his horse Commanding Curve earned him a huge payday. According to TMZ, Welker won more than $57,000 that weekend — including a $14,000 track error he was not forced to return — and he was seen in photographs being jubilant and passing out $100 bills to random people.
Welker, who had 778 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games last year, is still coming back from the effects of a concussion suffered two weeks ago against Houston. It was Welker’s third concussion in 10 months.