Kyle Love is strong in mind, but he'll have to prove that elsewhere. (AP)
In case you had any doubt as to the truism that professional football is a ruthless business, wonder no more. Two weeks after he was diagnosed with diabetes, former New England Patriots defensive tackle Kyle Love was released by the team via a non-football injury designation.
“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."
Love, who had been with the Patriots since 2010, started 25 games over the last two seasons in the Pats' interior defensive line, most often as Vince Wilfork's bookend. Used primarily as a run-stopping expert, the 6-foot-1, 315-pound undrafted Mississippi State alum signed a two-year, $3.09 million contract extension in 2012 to prevent him from hitting the market as a restricted free agent.
Wilfork, whose father died after a long struggle with the disease, and whose foundation is committed to raising awareness about diabetes, can't be happy about this at all.
Love played his last snaps for New England in the Pats' AFC Championship loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Love suffered a knee injury in the first half, and the Ravens took advantage with several big running plays in the last 30 minutes of the game. According to Pro Football Focus' run defense metrics among defensive tackles, Love was the 22nd most effective player at his position in the league last year.
“Having consulted with leading authorities on the effects of Type-2 diabetes, we have every reason to believe that Kyle will, in the immediate future, be at 100 percent, and will be prepared to participate in training camp in a couple of months," Kopelman concluded. "As Kyle said, 'there is no way something like this is going to stand between me and a long and successful NFL career.'”
Several prominent players have succeeded in the NFL despite known diabetes diagnoses. Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2008, two years after the Denver Broncos selected him in the first round. Three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Sinclair, who racked up 73.5 sacks for the Seattle Seahawks between 1992 and 2001, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes late in his career. And offensive guard Kendall Simmos started 83 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills from 2002 through 2009 as a Type 1.5 (Latent Autoimmune) diabetic.
Simmons is now a full-time advocate for those who manage diabetes.
“I wasn’t going to use diabetes as an excuse for missing a block or use [my blood sugar] being high and not really being able to focus as an excuse for missing an assignment,” Simmons told the War Eagle Reader in 2011 . “But you have to mentally tell yourself, ‘I can do this.’”
Clearly, Kyle Love has told himself the same thing, and we wish him the best.
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