I'll keep this short and sweet.
The Buffalo Bills have been no stranger to off-the-field controversies in 2016, that much is certain. And with the most recent news that offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson is facing a four-game suspension for violating the National Football League's substance abuse policy, it's just another thing to add to the list.
According to reports, Henderson is potentially getting the four-game ban for using marijuana to reportedly use as a remedy in his battle against Crohn's disease. The Bills can't comment on the matter for obvious reasons, and head coach Rex Ryan wouldn't go anywhere near the debate about marijuana being a banned substance that's punishable by the NFL.
The organization's hands were pretty much tied in that discussion, and any comment about league policy would have incurred perhaps even more punishment from the league. I don't blame them for not wanting to get involved with that.
The most stark statement the Bills made during the press conference is nothing more than an old refrain:
#Bills HC Rex Ryan: Guys have to be accountable. It's not tolerated. If it's against the rules, it's against the rules.
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) September 7, 2016
No, my problem isn't with the Bills here, or the culture of the locker room that Rex Ryan has created -- even though I've been critical of that in the past (see: the Marcell Dareus suspension). This isn't even about the league's policy on marijuana usage, which seems a bit ridiculous in today's day in age.
My problem is with the NFL.
Henderson has been battling for months against Crohn's disease, had surgery to remove over two-and-a-half feet of intestines, and reportedly lost 50 pounds throughout it all. He never knew if he was going to play football again.
Henderson stuck to it, followed the doctor's orders and worked himself all the way back to both a proper playing weight, and most importantly, a new chance at continuing his NFL career. It's a commendable effort.
If the usage for marijuana is what is reported, and used as a remedy to help fight Crohn's disease during the offensive tackle's plight, then it is utterly ridiculous that that is a suspendible offense.
The man was in a long-standing bout in a battle for his career, and he's now rewarded for a four-game ban upon being healthy for using that particular method? It seems pretty unjust to me.
Now, I get the other side of it, too. Henderson could have tried to get out in front of it and let the league know about the use of the banned substance to help him in his battle back on the field. The NFL may just be trying to cover their own backs and make a uniform policy -- I get that, too. And, I also know that the likelihood of him having an impact on the Bills through the first four games isn't all that great.
However, it all leads to one point in particular: the NFL has a clear chance to make this right.
Henderson has decided to appeal the four-game suspension -- for good reason, because if the reported claims are true, a man should not be penalized for doing anything possible to battle a life-threatening medical issue.
It's that simple.
If the NFL were to uphold the initial ruling based on a fairly ridiculous policy calling marijuana a banned substance, even though it's legalized in individual states where professional football happens to play -- but that's a different argument for a different day.
My argument is simply to let common sense win out. No suspension, no reduction of the initial suspension, no fine -- the NFL just needs to get out of the way and let Henderson continue what will be his lifelong battle against Crohn's disease without worry of being suspended further for taking the necessary measures.
This is bigger than the NFL, and if they don't get that, then just add it to the list of the lunacy-laden decisions they've made over the past several years.
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