Thursday’s Patriot talking point?
The cold, ruthless approach the team takes with its employees. The evidence? Wednesday’s release of defensive tackle Kyle Love less than two weeks after Love was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Cases to avoid since they will muddy the waters and a paint-by-numbers rip job more difficult to execute?
The signing of Armond Armstead (heart attack at USC) last winter. The drafting of Marcus Cannon (non-Hodgkins lymphoma) in 2010. The employment of Matt Light for 10 seasons while Light battled Crohn’s Disease. The patience with Jeff Tarpinian as he recovered from a serious health issue in 2011. Sticking by Tedy Bruschi after Bruschi’s stroke in early 2005.
The Patriots have arguably proven themselves as being as forgiving and patient with medical issues as any team in the league.
What they do not do well is explain. And in the case of Love’s release, they are taking a beating on this Thursday because they haven’t shared their version of why they released Love.
Pro Football Talk: Patriots' decision to cut Love looks like disability discrimination
What we know is that the Patriots released Love and provided the reason as NFI (Non-football injury/Illness), according to Love’s agent Richard Kopelman.
Kopelman told ESPNBoston’s Mike Reiss, “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.”
Between Kopelman’s explanation and the NFI designation Kopelman says will be the reason for release, it appears simple: the Patriots released Love because he has Type-2 diabetes.
Now, I am neither an expert in diabetes nor disability law, but we can all agree that professional football has unique physical demands. And in the case of a defensive tackle, one of those demands is to be, in essence, morbidly obese. Morbidly obese doesn’t mix well with Type-2 diabetes. Love is a very, very large man. There are some players who carry their 330-or-so pounds pretty well. Others are shaped like bowling pins. Love is a bowling pin. Could he manage his diabetes and maintain the weight necessary to be a dependable employee on the defensive line? Certainly, that appears to have been a concern of the Patriots.
But factors beyond health no doubt figured into Love’s release. For instance, by the end of 2012, Love had been surpassed by Brandon Deaderick in the Patriots' defensive tackle rotation.
Deaderick, meanwhile, was released on Tuesday. So the fact Deaderick AND Love were released suggests something else is at play: Scheme.
The Patriots have signed Armond Armstead and former Raider Tommy Kelly this offseason. Additionally, they have Marcus Fortson back. All those players are leaner and faster than either Love or Deaderick. The Patriots are transitioning defensively from a team that plays a base 3-4 defense to a 4-3 team. They first made the switches on the outside last season. Now it appears they are working on the interior defensive line.
Here’s the thing, though. While there may be much more to Love’s release than “The Patriots cut him 'cuz of the diabetes . . . ” that’s the way it’s going to play today. And the Patriots rarely deign to defend themselves.