Wes Welker’s return indicates that for some, the NFL is an addictive drug

My only question for Wes Welker: Why?

Welker, who is returning to the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, spoke publicly Tuesday for the first time since signing his deal with the team. And while he predictably batted aside questions about his extensive concussion history, he wasn’t able to clarify for me why exactly this is a worthwhile risk for a successful family man with so much still ahead of him.

When Welker met with the media, he noted that he believes he still has “it.” And although the numbers indicate his play was declining by the time he joined the Denver Broncos in 2013, it’s fair to give a talented athlete like himself the benefit of the doubt there.

But even if Welker is capable of making an impact as a pro football player at the age of 34, why is he interested in doing so? The man has made $40.8 million dollars and is more rich and famous than anyone could have expected of an undrafted receiver.

He spoke about wanting to contribute, which is nice. But why? Hasn’t he contributed enough? There are no dues to be paid. And with the mysteries of CTE becoming less mysterious, even the fact that he’s been cleared by doctors isn’t enough to convince a lot of people that Welker isn’t opening himself up to tremendous short- and long-term risk.

“I just loving playing,” he said. “I love playing ball.”

I might understand, at least to a degree, if Welker were to claim this is all about chasing that championship that has eluded him for over a decade. He fell short in Super Bowl appearances with New England in 2007 and Denver in 2013, and that’s a craving that many mortal men have risks their bodies — even their lives — for.

But Welker didn’t say anything about winning. I’m certain that was a factor here, but it strikes me that this is more about simply not being prepared to give it up despite the fact the mounting risk doesn’t appear to be worth the perceived potential rewards.

If that’s the case, Welker’s the anti-Chris Borland. He’s addicted to the game, and he’s not willing to give it up for almost anything.

And that’s kind of scary.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.