ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
ESPN reported the violation had to do with amphetamines.
NFL Media reported Welker, 33, was notified Tuesday he had lost his appeal, which was heard two weeks ago. The suspension will cost him $706,000 in base salary.
The Broncos visit the Seahawks in the third week of the season. The Sept. 21 game is a rematch of last season’s Super Bowl, won 43-8 by Seattle.
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Welker returned to practice Monday for the first time since suffering a concussion in an Aug. 23 exhibition game. It was his third concussion in a span of about 10 months.
Welker, who caught a career-best 10 touchdown passes last season, discussed the suspension in an email to The Denver Post.
“I’m as shocked as everyone at today’s 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 league’s 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.”
Irsay is punished
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – The league suspended Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay for the first six games of the season and fined him $500,000 for violating its personal-conduct policy.
The sanctions were announced hours after Irsay, 55, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor stemming from a March traffic stop.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said Irsay is barred from team facilities, practices and games and cannot represent the Colts at league meetings or events. The fine is the maximum allowed under NFL rules.
Irsay pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and acknowledged he was under the influence of the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone when he was arrested March 16 near his home in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel.
Sam interests Dallas
The Dallas Cowboys will host Michael Sam at Valley Ranch in Irving on Wednesday, sources told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The defensive end will take a physical, and the Cowboys are expected to sign him to the practice squad if all goes well during his visit.
Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team when the St. Louis Rams selected him in the seventh round. He was cut Saturday and was not signed to the Rams’ practice squad.
Practice-squad players will make $6,300 per week this season, including the bye week.
Meanwhile, the league outlined a series of conditions former Dallas defensive tackle Josh Brent must meet to be eligible to play when the Cowboys return from their bye week in November. Brent, 26, will be suspended for the first 10 games of the season.
Brent retired last year and was sentenced to 180 days in jail after a trial in January in the intoxication-manslaughter death of Jerry Brown, a practice-squad linebacker for Dallas. A 10-year prison sentence was suspended.
• Defensive end J.J. Watt, 25, agreed to a six-year contract extension with the Houston Texans. According to reports, the deal is worth $100 million, including a $10 million signing bonus and $51.8 million guaranteed overall.
Watt is signed through the 2021 season.
• The Chicago Bears placed receiver Marquess Wilson, a former Washington State player who broke his collarbone in training camp, on injured reserve with a designation to return this season. Wilson, 21, will miss at least the first eight weeks of the season.
• Defensive tackle Ray McDonald, 30, of the San Francisco 49ers is facing felony domestic-violence charges.
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh, speaking on KNBR radio, cautioned against a rush to judgment but added, “If someone physically abuses a woman and/or physically or mentally abuses or hurts a child, then there’s no understanding. There’s no tolerance for that.”