ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The NFL on Tuesday suspended Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker for four games for alleged amphetamine use.
Welker will miss games against the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals — all teams that won at least 10 games last season. The league says the suspension is for violation of the performance enhancing substances policy. Welker will be eligible to return to the active roster Oct. 6.
“Tonight’s news regarding Wes is very disappointing for our team, but we understand the league’s authority in this area,” coach John Fox said. “While it’s unfortunate to not have him to start the year, I have full confidence in our wide receivers and expect that group to continue playing at a high level. I have no doubt that Wes will remain focused on his preparations for the season and stay in excellent shape during his time away from the team.”
According to Fox Sports, the Broncos have known about Welker’s suspension since before training camp but were holding out hope on an appeal.
Pro Football Talk reported “Welker took Molly [ecstasy] at the Kentucky Derby.” “It had been cut with amphetamines,” the site reported.
Welker was seen at the Derby handing out $100 to random passersby.
But Welker expressed shock in the positive drug test in an email statement to The Denver Post.
“I’m as shocked as everyone at todays news,” Welker wrote. “I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I would NEVER knowingly take a substance to gain a competitive advantage in any way. Anyone who has ever played a down with me, lifted a weight with me, even eaten a meal with me, knows that I focus purely on what I put in my body and on the hard work I put in year round to perform at the highest levels year-in and year-out.
“I want any youth football players and all sports fans to know, there are NO shortcuts to success, and nothing but hard work and studying, leads to success.
“I have never been concerned with the leagues performance enhancing or drug abuse policies because under no scenario would they ever apply to me, but I now know, that (drug-policy procedures) are clearly flawed, and I will do everything in my power to ensure they are corrected, so other individuals and teams aren’t negatively affected so rashly like this.
“I have worked my whole life to be the best that I can be, and I have encountered many obstacles over my career, and THIS WILL BE NO DIFFERENT!
“Thank you for the outpouring of support, and I want Bronco nation to know, that no one and no thing will get in the way of our goal as a team, to bring Mr. Bowlen the trophy he and this great region deserve.”
The Post also reported, citing a source, that Welker tested positive for Adderall and was not happy of the report that he took Molly.
“I wouldn’t have any idea where to get a Molly or what a Molly is,” he told The Post. “That’s a joke. I don’t do marijuana, I don’t do drugs. I don’t do any drugs.”
Welker returned to the practice field Monday, continuing his recovery from his third concussion in 10 months. The injury was suffered during Denver’s preseason game against the Houston Texans on Aug. 23.
Welker, 33, suffered his first concussion of the 2013 season on Nov. 17 in a win over the Kansas City Chiefs and returned to play a week later. He suffered his second concussion on Dec. 9 in a win over the Tennessee Titans and didn’t return until the Broncos’ first playoff game on Jan. 12.
Welker played the entire the postseason with a heavily padded helmet, and finished with 18 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown. That accompanied the 73 catches, 778 yards and 10 touchdowns that Welker compiled in his concussion-shorted regular season.
After Welker’s second concussion, Sports Illustrated columnist Jeff Pearlman wrote a well-publicized, impassioned and slightly obscene open letter to Welker, pleading with the Broncos receiver to retire.
Despite an increased focus on concussions in the past several seasons, Forbes reported that Welker’s concussion was the 59th suffered by an NFL player through three weeks of preseason games this year.