Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Dear Wes Welker …

welkI am writing you this letter. I know you’re not reading it, so perhaps the whole exercise is pointless. Still, I’ll give it a go.

Earlier today, in a win against the Tennessee Titans, you suffered a concussion—your second of the season, your—what?—eighth … ninth … 10th of your career. You keep coming back, and coming back, and coming back, and the analysts and color commentators routinely praise your courage and toughness.

Well, I don’t think you’re courageous. Or tough. I think you’re fucking stupid.

Wes, have you not been paying attention to the news on CTE and concussions and the hundreds upon hundreds of former NFL players who can’t remember their names; who wind up in assisted living communities, drinking strained peas through a straw? I’m being 100-percent serious here. These men, like you, believed in the bullshit machismo code of the NFL, which dictates one plays hard and plays all the time—physical and mental damage be damned. These man, like you, had their bells rung repeatedly, yet tried their best to hide said information from team doctors (if the team doctors even really cared—which, oftentimes, they didn’t).

Wes, you’re a young guy, and you need to retire right now. You need to stop showing up for practices and stop showing up for games. You can slink away, you can hold a press conference—it matters not. But you absolutely, positively need to end this nonsense ASAP.

You don’t know me. I’m a nobody in your life—and, perhaps, that’s the point. Do you think the Denver Broncos want you to retire? Do you think John Elway and Peyton Manning want you to retire? Do you think your coaches want you to retire? How about your friends from back home … the ones who brag every time you appear on TV? Answer: No. They all cling to your career. They all want/need it to continue—for themselves, for their egos, for their wallets. I’m just a writer. One who has grown tired of telling the same ol’ story about the same ol’ NFL retirees lost in the depths of hell.

Wes, next week’s big game isn’t that big. The Super Bowl isn’t that important—they played one last year, they’ll play one next year. What’s important is your health, and your family, and your kids having a father of full mind and mental capacity.

Stop this. Really—just stop.