Wes Welker played 12 NFL seasons and had his most productive stint during a six-year stint in New England where he eclipsed 1,100 receiving yards five times. He last played in the league in 2015, when he appeared in eight games for the Rams. Now Welker serves as an offensive/special teams assistant coach for the Texans.
And that's where his focus is -- on his coaching future, not on any possible long-term side effects from playing such a brutal sport over an extended period. Welker suffered at least six concussions during his career -- and perhaps more that weren't documented publicly -- and that includes three concussions during a nine-month period that began in the 2013 season.
"I can't sit here and worry about it; I don't want to live my life that way," Welker told ESPN.com's Mike Reiss recently. "Is there a possibility [of long-term implications]? Maybe, I don't know. We'll have to see how everything kind of happens, I guess.
"I'm going to try to do everything I can to put myself in a position where I'm healthy and hopefully good. If I'm good, then great. At the same time, I'm not going to live my life worrying if my brain is going to explode at any second."
Welker, who is 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, was known for his fearlessness, especially in the middle of the field where he was a target for lurking safeties before rules were tightened on how and where defenders could target would-be pass catchers.
"I don't know if I'd really change much -- who I am or how I went about my business -- because a lot of that aggressiveness and the reason [for success] was because of the way I played," he said. "When I felt like I wasn't playing that way, I wasn't playing to my best ability. ...
"Do I wish, looking back, [that I] would have gone out of bounds or gotten down, earlier in my career especially? There's always a warrior mentality, but trying to be smart about some of those things; I mean, yeah, I probably would have. When you don't have any concussions and you're just kind of going out there recklessly, you're 20-something years old, you don't think about it. You just go play."
The concern, of course, is that Welker could develop problems down the road; some former players complain of memory loss, lingering injury issues and worse. Antwaan Randle El, who was a slot receiver for the Steelers and Redskins from 2002-2010, said last year that he now wishes he never played football.
But Welker isn't dwelling on what-ifs, and is instead looking to get back on the field, even if that means in a coaching capacity.
"Healthwise, I've been good as far as that stuff. The year off sucked. Getting through that year and then finding what I really want to do -- this is it. And just pushing forward with it and going at it like I have everything else -- just giving my best shot at whatever I'm doing."