NFL Patriots release Kyle Love after diabetes diagnosis

Kyle Love, defensive tackle for the Patriots, was released just days after finding out that he has diabetes. Photo: Kyle Love

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2013 — On Wednesday Kyle Love, defensive tackle for the New England Patriots, was released under a non football injury or illness designation.

Love played all 16 games for the Patriots over the past two seasons and started in 24 of them, so to say that this release comes as a surprise is a bit of an understatement.

It appears to have been a surprise even to Love.

The only explanation Love and his agent can see is that two weeks ago Love was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. “This comes on the heels of Kyle having been diagnosed within the past two weeks with Type-2 diabetes,” Richard Kopelman, Love’s agent told ESPN Boston.

“Naturally, we are disappointed that the Patriots decided to part ways with Kyle, especially in light of the fact that a number of elite professional athletes with diabetes – both Type-1, which is known to be far more difficult to manage than Type-2 diabetes – have had very successful careers in professional football, hockey, baseball and basketball.

“Prior to the diagnosis, Kyle recently experienced unexplained weight loss, but since being diagnosed and having altered his diet, Kyle has regained most of the weight he lost, is in good health, and was not limited in any way during offseason workouts in which he was engaged up until being told he would be released.

“Kyle is going to be at 100 percent within a matter of weeks. Barring something out of the ordinary, he should be ready to go for training camp, and he’ll continue to be successful.”

It was reported that Love had recently lost 30 lbs., which is a common symptom of Type-2 diabetes, along with excessive thirst, frequent urination and excessive hunger.

Rates of Type-2 diabetes have sharply increased over the past 50 years. The rate increase runs in parallel with the rise in obesity rates.

As a defensive tackle, Kyle Love’s weight would be a major contributing factor in his job performance, with Kopelman specifically addresses concern over weight loss in the interview with ESPN Boston. At 6’ 1”, 315 lbs., Love’s body mass index (BMI) comes in at 41.6 and earns him the designation of obese class III or very severely obese.

It has been long understood that the BMI scale is not an accurate measurement for extremely muscular individuals. Although Love clearly carries more muscle than a typical man, he also carries more size from other factors as well.

An argument could be made that a contributing factor to Love developing diabetes was the weight that he needed to maintain to play successfully for New England, and now they have released him.

Although there is no evidence that he will, Love could also make an argument in court that the New England Patriots have violated the American’s with Disabilities Act by releasing him for his diabetes diagnosis.

The American with Disabilities Act protects against disability based discrimination in the workplace and all employers including the NFL are subject to it. The ADA Amendment of 2008 declares diabetes as a recognized disability protected by the law.

A simplified explanation of the ADA is that an employer must provide “reasonable accommodations” to an employee with a disability so that they can still perform the essential functions of their job. Any court would see breaks for blood checks or insulin and food intake as a reasonable accommodation. 

The reputation of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots as the cold, heartless team of the NFL sets them up perfectly as the villains of this story but a defender could see this as simply a good business move.

Kyle Love plays a position that requires him to maintain an unhealthy weight and for a man with diabetes, maintaining that weight could be extremely dangerous. Losing size and strength at that position would jeopardize the success of the team which is what the front office is paid to make sure does not happen.

Also Love may not have made the final roster, he had no guarantee. In the last game that he played for the Patriots, the AFC Championship against the Ravens, he suffered a knee injury in the first half that the Ravens were able to take advantage of by running several big plays at the end of the game.

The ADA doesn’t require an employer to keep a subpar employee, only that they make a reasonable effort to make it work. If the team were to find that they were not able to get what they need out of Love due to his disability, the ADA can do nothing for him.

Whether the Patriots are heartless or savvy businessmen will come down to personal opinion, but whether it was the correct move or not will be determined on the field next season.

Kyle Love was picked up on waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars less than 24 hours after his release.


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Susan L Ruth

Susan L. Ruth is a long-time Washington, DC resident with extensive ties throughout the community.  She is a genealogical researcher and writer, and is an active volunteer in the Northern Virginia competitive swimming community.  Susan previously worked providing life-skills to head injured adults. 

Susan and her husband Kerry currently live in Northern Virginia with their three sons, Ryley, Casey and Jack and their American Bulldog, Leila.

 

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