What is a "leap of faith"? Is it proposing to a girlfriend? Is it buying a puppy for your kids? Is it delivering a check by hand that you know is going to bounce? Is it telling someone you love them on The Bachelor?
If you're Wes Welker, it's signing a one-year $9.5 million contract, and then tweeting that you took a leap of faith. The tweet also said "hopefully doing the right thing will get the right results. #leapoffaith." I am not going to try to argue either side of the Wes Welker debate, however, the statement about a leap of faith got me thinking about a new breed of free agent football players we could see in the next 6-10 years.
We'll call them the "Concussion Era free agents."
The Concussion Era free agents are the guys who are too far into their career to get out. They are football players; it's their living. Walking away is not an option (although Terry Long wrote about one Rams lineman who did in fact walk away).
Wes Welker might be our first example of this new type of free agent. Football players have always known that they had a limited time to make as much money as they could, but with the recent influx of information regarding head injuries and suicides, one has to wonder if that will make contracts even more important.
Welker makes a living going across the middle of the field like a jackrabbit running through the Serengeti. One of these days he's going to get caught, and in the back of his mind he has to know it. Hell, it could happen this upcoming season. This contract could be his very last one.
He might not even remember signing this contract in 15 years. I know that's a morbid statement, but it's that dire for a lot of these free agents now. There's not much joking around when talking about these players' futures.
A lot of people are talking about football disappearing into the ether, like boxing. Smart people are debating if college football is immoral. Football's death would be a slow one over a generation or more, meaning players will continue to take a leap of faith and play the game, hoping that the men in charge of the game (read: owners and the Commissioner) will take a leap of faith in them.
In the players' minds, one way to take a leap of faith is through higher salaries, rewarding the newly-found risks the players are taking.
While Welker has not claimed the contract is about the added risk of playing football, it does have that feel. When he is saying that the Patriots need to take a leap of faith, it says a lot about how he views his future. It's important, and it should be. He wants to be a Patriot, but he also wants to get paid so he can support his family through the entirety of his post-playing days.
While Welker has not claimed the contract is about the added risk of playing football, it does have that feel.
The Patriots need to show their appreciation for the diminutive wide receiver; he has given everything he has for this team: breaking records, rehabbing knee injuries, and giving a consistent effort.
If the Patriots do not pay Welker, it might start to look like they do not value his production. But worse, it might look like they do not take Welker's future seriously, the risks he takes to play the game.
Will other free agents take advantage of the new research regarding brain injuries? Will they ask for even more money due to the risk they are taking? Will the specter of Junior Seau loom over the players? Will the owners ignore the issues at hand?
The NFL's treatment of former players is already under the microscope. Maybe the treatment and payment of current players could add to the legitimate belief that the owners don't care and are ignoring what's going on in the sport.
Maybe that lack of care will lead to the "concussion era free agent," the guy who needs the money, because he is literally putting his life, and his family's life, in grave danger every time he straps on his helmet. That's a leap of faith in his mind, and he'll want the owners to take a leap of faith on his behalf too.
Fan Hub Action
Marcy Kelly June 12th
Wow! I must have listened to a completely differnt press conference. Oh, wait- you convinently left off all of the good things they just got…
Nathan Devine June 5th
The dude is nasty. The fastball is REAL heavy at 97-100. Steady improvement every year.
Jeanne-Marie Jansen Lowell May 23rd
Greatest relief pitcher EVER! Someday we can all tell our grandchildren we got to see him pitch. A true legend!
Charlie Lobosco May 23rd
Ask Craig; I’ll say it again; not the best relief pitcher ever; the best MLB player ever. Yes, that includes everyone.
Jim Lowell May 23rd
Great tribute to a great player, a great Yankee, and a great man.Thank you!
Frank Lowell May 23rd
Great job, Ryan! As a life-long Yankee hater since the 1950’s in the closing days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, I can only sit back and…
Tiffany Riddle May 23rd
Love the article, and I completely agree!
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
June 18th, 2013 3:14 PM
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