Saturday, December 3, 2016

Dear NFL Don't Suspend Seantrel Henderson for 10 Games for Crohn's Disease

As someone who actually suffers from Crohn's disease I felt it was important to discuss the recent suspension of NFL player Seantrel Henderson (who suffers from Crohn's disease) for using marijuana. Henderson who has been playing in the NFL for 3 years has been battling Crohn's disease since 2015. Seantrel was 6'7 and 330 pounds and then lost 50 pounds and then during the 2015 season he lost 50 pounds and surgeons had to remove 2.6 feet from his small and large intestine and he had to wear an ileostomy bag (he ended up having to have two surgeries to reconnect his intestines). For a period of three months he had to eat food through a tube (have NFL committee members ever had to deal with something like this?)

Now I have previously written a post here about the use of marijuana on Crohn's here. What I explained in that post was this study showing 90% of patients who used marijuana saw a clinical response and 45% of patients were in remission (which is on par with Humira and other biologics). Another study found that 70% of patients that used marijuana had a positive effect and may have reduced the need for surgery. Also it is worth pointing out that 48% of Crohn's patients have used marijuana in their lifetime (which is only slightly higher than the 42% of Americans that have admitted to using it during their lifetime. What is even more interesting is that people complain about the side effects of marijuana when nearly every drug has some type of side effect.  I would be interested to see what 10 years of taking marijuana would do to a body vs. 10 years of prednisone. 

What is quite interesting is that many NFL players (historical suspensions can be found here) only get suspended one game for domestic violence-which by the way in the outside world can have a punishment of up to 1 year in prison. Jared Allen in 2007 was suspended for 2 games after he received 2 DUI arrests (you know the driving that can actually harm incident bystanders). What is even worse is the players of the New Orleans Saints were suspended less time for organizing a bounty program to injure players from other teams. Even when you look at players who have violated the substance abuse policies that have been put into place players typically only get suspended 4 games. 

When a player in the NFL gets suspended they are not paid either which could lead to some major cash flow problems. Henderson signed a 4 year contract for $2.2 million. For 2016 Henderson is suppose to earn about $292,000. Each NFL teams plays 16 games per year. By not being able to play for 10 games Henderson would only make $110,000 (losing $182,000!). 

The NFL should not suspend Seantrel Henderson for 10 games for using marijuana for Crohn's disease. Why would you suspend a player for 1) using a substance that has been shown in peer reviewed journals to benefit in Crohn's disease 2) using a substance that is currently legalized in 26 states 3) who is trying to control a chronic illness  when other NFL players do far worse things (receive DUIs, assault girlfriends, and organize bounty rings and end up getting suspended fewer games. Not only is Seantrel not able to play the game he loves but he is not able to earn a living as well. The NFL should consider allowing players to use certain substances but only if they truly have a medical issue. Crohn's is a chronic and painful illness that no one should have to live with.