A year ago, Wes Welker became Exhibit A in the debate on whether a playoff-bound team should rest its star players for virtually meaningless games at the end of the regular season.
The star New England Patriots slot receiver ripped up his left knee in Reliant Stadium in the 2009 finale and was unavailable for the Patriots' first-round playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady missed his go-to guy in a game the underdog Ravens dominated.
Welker on Thursday was named the Patriots' recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, which each team gives to a player who symbolizes perseverance.
On a day he was forced to remember the injury and a grueling recovery, Welker was asked if he'd be willing to risk his health again this weekend.
The Patriots will host the Miami Dolphins (Welker's former team) in a game that means zilch to either team, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been coy on how much his starters will play. The Patriots have the AFC's top seed sewn up. The Dolphins were eliminated from the playoff picture long ago.
"I say I'm here to play football," Welker said. "That's what I get paid to do. I love playing it. No matter what's at stake, I want to play it.
"I know people probably think differently about that. But I don't worry about all that stuff, and whatever Coach Belichick decides for me, that's what I'm going to do, but I'm always ready to play."