The ruthless nature of football decision-making has resulted in plenty of fans and reporters becoming desensitized to the human element of these moves. And that causes us all, in some situations, to miss potential violations of human rights.
For former Patriots defensive tackle Kyle Love, the facts as communicated by his agent to the media (and not yet refuted by the Patriots) point to the conclusion that the team cut Love because Love has Type-2 diabetes. And that points to a potential violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and any Massachusetts laws covering a persons rights when it comes to certain physical and medical conditions.
The labor deal omits actual or perceived disability as a ground on which discrimination is prohibited by Article 49 of the document. That decision likely was aimed at preventing players from arguing that the cruel-but-inevitable decision to strip a roster spot from an older, damaged player and give it to a younger guy resulted from physical conditions that the team should have found a way to reasonably accommodate.
Still, rights not covered by a labor deal typically exist beyond the four corners of a Collective Bargaining Agreement, allowing the employee to file suit. While suing the Patriots could make it harder for Love to continue his NFL elsewhere, a decision to lump it doesn’t mean the Patriots properly respected his legal rights.
Unless there’s more to the story (and there could be), it appears that the Patriots preferred not having to deal with a diabetic player, presuming he could miss practice time or game time or who could have a hard time keeping his weight at the right level or otherwise create issues or distractions a healthy player doesn’t. If there is more to the story — if, for example, Love has been teetering on the brink of Type-2 diabetes and the team had been working with him to improve his diet and he nevertheless failed to comply with efforts to keep him from acquiring the disease — the Patriots need to make that known. (Though that wouldn’t necessarily make the move legal and proper, it would make the team’s swift reaction to the diagnosis more understandable.)
Absent an explanation, a head coach whom many believe to be heartless will appear that way. Even worse, it will reinforce the perception that Bill Belichick does whatever he wants, daring those whose rights may have been violated to do something about it.