This week, the New England Patriots cut defensive tackle Kyle Love, who was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
The move came as a surprise, since Love had played in every game the past two years, starting in 16 of them. Though the Patriots did not specify why they had dumped Love, they released him under a non-football injury or illness designation, and his agent made it clear he believed Love's diagnosis was the driving factor.
"This comes on the heels of Kyle having been diagnosed within the past two weeks with Type-2 diabetes," Love's agent, Richard Kopelman, told ESPN Boston. "Naturally, we are disappointed that the Patriots decided to part ways with Kyle."
"If they simply wanted to upgrade, that’s fine," says ProFootballTalk's Darin Gantt. "But cutting a player who was useful to them when he found out he was sick underscores the cold nature of the business, such that anyone still wondered about that."
SB Nation's Alec Shane was less diplomatic in his assessment, ripping the Patriots as "cold, heartless, unfeeling," and labeling them a "classless bunch of jerks."
"I hate to see it, because the media usually chooses to paint every move New England makes in the best light possible, but there's just no way you can spin this one," he adds.
Some have argued that in releasing Love, the Patriots may have inadvertently run afoul of anti-discrimination laws. The Patriot's are "joyriding on the low [road]" by daring Love to challenge them on whether the team violated his rights, says NBC Sports' Mike Florio.
"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," he adds.
Deadspin's Sean Newell makes a similar argument. Though he cautions that the Americans with Disabilities Act might not be applicable here —NFL teams could argue a diabetic can't perform well enough to earn a roster spot in the first place — that doesn't mean players shouldn't be allowed to make their case.
"This is the exact kind of scenario the ADA was designed to prevent and yet players never avail themselves of it," he says. "Maybe they don't want to rock the boat and anger future employers (another strike against management practices) or maybe they are complicit. Maybe admitting to being disabled goes against the gladiator."
Still, others argue that the Patriots may have had a legitimate, performance-based reason for dropping Love, or had planned to do so even before the diabetes diagnosis. The timing is certainly suspect, but the team has yet to confirm or deny why exactly they've parted ways.
"Anyone who pretends like they know the Patriots motives either have to prove they have a legitimate source, or they would just be another person passing off their own opinions as fact," says Joe Soriano over at Musket Fire, a Patriots fan site.
At least Love appears to have already been given a second chance to prove himself. On Thursday, the Jaguars reportedly picked him up off waivers.