It’s becoming more clear that the New England Patriots cut defensive lineman Kyle Love for one reason. He has Type-2 diabetes.
And while Love could, in theory, pursue legal claims against the team under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act or the Massachusetts equivalent, agent Richard Kopelman tells PFT that Love’s current focus is on getting healthy and finding a new NFL team.
Though Kopelman hasn’t completely ruled out an eventual lawsuit, Kopelman explained that Love has no hard feelings against the team for doing what it believed it needed to do. From Love’s perspective, if the team doesn’t want him, then he needs to find one who does.
What his most recent team did, per Kopelman, was offer Love two alternatives: retire for a year or be released. Though the Pats were willing to waive any ability to recover a portion of his signing bonus if he opted to retired, Love wants to play football.
And so the choice became easy. He picked the path that gives him a chance to play.
“We have every reason to believe Kyle is going to be well enough to play this year,” Kopelman said. “We’d rather be in position of having a chance to play this year versus not having a chance to play this year.”
The period for claiming Love’s contract on waivers expires at 4:00 p.m. ET. If he’s not claimed, Love becomes a free agent.
Kopelman also explained the communications that resulted in Love’s release. From the moment the team’s doctors made the diagnosis, the team adopted the “retire or be released” stance. Kopelman told the Patriots that “it’s far too early to make a decision as to whether [Love] can perform his job in September, or even July,” and that “all indications are that Kyle should be fine in a couple of weeks.”
Still, the Patriots “reiterated it’s a medical issue and they don’t want to take a chance of Kyle not being healthy.”
While Kopelman has managed to take the high road, someone needs to point out that the Patriots are joyriding on the low one. Jettisoning an employee who has a disease simply because the team fears that the disease could affect future performance is wrongheaded, unfair, and ultimately illegal.
It sends a bad message to mid-level managers in other industries who spend more time in the sports pages than the business section. “It just seems wrong,” one of my family members who has been living with diabetes for years said in an unsolicited text message that buzzed through while I was typing this. “It upsets me and confuses me and makes me wonder what other kind of discrimination is out there for someone like me.”
That’s a fair concern. People with diabetes lead normal lives. And so at a time when the biggest talking point in the NFL relates to whether a team will accept a gay player, how can any NFL team in good conscience reject a player due to a medical condition that has no relevance to his ability to perform his job?
Even if Love never takes action, someone should — either at the league office or in the Patriots’ front office.