The NFL handed Buffalo Bills lineman Seantrel Henderson a 10-game suspension on Tuesday for violating the league's controlled substance policy.
Henderson was diagnosed with Crohn's disease last year, and uses marijuana to cope with the effects. His 10-game suspension comes after serving an additional four-game suspension at the beginning of the 2016 season for marijuana use.
Henderson's suspension provides even more fuel to the heated debate on the NFL's arguably overbearing policy on marijuana use.
“There is zero allowable medical exemption for this per the NFL," Henderson's agent Brian Fetter said after his first suspension, per Deadspin, "however, there clearly should be.”
Fetter isn't the only one who thinks the NFL is too tough on weed, particularly when it comes to players like Henderson who rely on the drug to manage pain.
The @NFL should be ashamed of themselves for the way they treated Seantrel Henderson. Care about players safety and lively hood? Shut it..
— Jake Diekman (@JakeDiekman) November 30, 2016
Disgusting decision by @NFL. @66_Henderson has an awful disease and medical marijuana helps him function. #StandWithSeantrel #BillsMafia
— Kearney Erhard (@KearneyErhard) November 29, 2016
Disgusted at Seantrel Henderson's suspension for treating his Crohn's with prescribed cannabis. #NFL couldn't care less about player health
— Jake Silver (@jakeofsilver) November 29, 2016
Opponents of the NFL's drug policy deal much of their criticism with comparisons to the league's domestic violence policy. When the NFL handed Ray Rice a mere two-game suspension for punching his fiancée in 2014, fans erupted.
Reactions to Henderson's suspension are similar.
.@NFL Suspension Logic:
Rodney Austin DV: 6 games
Jonathan Dwyer DV: 3 games
Ray Rice DV: 2 games
Seantrel Henderson Medical MJ: 10 games
— (((FollyGolightly))) (@MarbledWry) November 29, 2016
Maybe if @66_Henderson just beat his wife instead of smoking pot, the @NFL suspension would have been much less.
What a shit-show.
— Michael Ryan (@formalcloud) November 30, 2016
The NFL's suspiciously inconsistent approach to discipline was exposed again last month when letters revealed Giants kicker Josh Brown had been abusing his wife long before the one-game suspension he earned in December.
That punishment looks particularly soft now, given the recent revelations.
Seantrel Henderson gets a 10 game ban for treating his Crohn's disease with presc. med. marijuana, but Josh Brown beats his wife and gets 1.
— Christian Rehm (@rehm_tweets) November 30, 2016
If you're interested in playing the sympathy card, just read about Henderson's life after he had sections of his large and small intestines removed in surgery earlier this year.
"For nearly four months he had to wear an ileostomy bag that was attached through a hole near his waist," the Democrat & Chronicle's Sai Maiorana writes, "and every hour the bag had to be emptied, meaning Henderson was never able to get a good night’s sleep."
“I was depressed, I was down, I was insecure about myself,” Henderson told Maiorana. “I had the bag, not being able to use the bathroom for three or four months. I couldn’t do anything I wanted to do, I lost all that weight, I was very unhealthy. I had no appetite like it used to be, so it really had my mind not all the way together.”
Henderson's suspension, which he will appeal, comes a few weeks after the NFL Player's Association announced it would research marijuana as a pain management tool for players, an alternative to the highly addictive opiates that trainers rely on.
The case for a change in the NFL's drug policy is coming from every angle.
Henderson's might be the strongest yet.