Bills’ Hen­der­son gets 10-game ban

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By John Wawrow

The Bills an­nounced the league no­ti­fied them on Tues­day of Hen­der­son’s sus­pen­sion for vi­o­lat­ing the league’s sub­stance abuse pol­icy.

It’s Hen­der­son’s sec­ond sus­pen­sion this year af­ter he served a four-game ban to start the sea­son.

Hen­der­son’s agent, Brian Fet­tner, called the league’s de­ci­sion “heart­break­ing,” and added he can­not ap­peal the sus­pen­sion be­cause the NFL doesn’t al­low an ex­emp­tion for med­i­cal mar­i­juana use.

“His sit­u­a­tion is unique, but the drug pol­icy doesn’t line up with the unique­ness. It’s dis­ap­point­ing,” Fet­tner said.

“The re­al­ity is, the NFL’s po­si­tion has been if you need med­i­cal mar­i­juana then you’re too sick to play,” he added. “But that’s just not the case for Seantrel Hen­der­son.”

Hen­der­son will sit out the fi­nal five games of the sea­son, and the sus­pen­sion will carry on ei­ther into the play­offs or next sea­son.

Buf­falo (6-5) plays at Oak­land (9-2) on Sun­day.

The Bills also made sev­eral ros­ter moves by plac­ing de­fen­sive tackle Corbin Bryant and re­ceiver Walt Pow­ell on the sea­son-end­ing in­jured re­serve list. Bryant has missed three games with a shoul­der in­jury, and Pow­ell hurt his left an­kle in a 28-21 win against Jack­sonville on Sun­day.

Buf­falo filled the two ros­ter spots by pro­mot­ing de­fen­sive tackle De­an­dre Coleman and re­ceiver Dezmin Lewis from the prac­tice squad.

Hen­der­son was di­ag­nosed with in­flam­ma­tory bowel disease a year ago and had two op­er­a­tions on his in­testines last off­sea­son. Doc­tors re­moved a sec­tion of dis­eased tis­sue in Jan­uary, and Hen­der­son then had his in­testines reat­tached in April.

Sev­eral stud­ies have found mar­i­juana can be an ef­fec­tive treat­ment for Crohn’s.

In New York, the state’s med­i­cal mar­i­juana pro­gram specif­i­cally lists pa­tients di­ag­nosed with in­flam­ma­tory bowel disease as be­ing po­ten­tially el­i­gi­ble to ob­tain med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

Hen­der­son pre­vi­ously ac­knowl­edged test­ing positive for the drug at the NFL com­bine in 2014 and said positive tests led to him be­ing sus­pended sev­eral times in col­lege.

His only ap­pear­ance this sea­son came against Cincin­nati on Nov. 20, and he was in­ac­tive against Jack­sonville last week­end.

Hen­der­son was ex­cused from prac­tice last week to at­tend to the birth of son, Seantrel Jr.

Buf­falo se­lected Hen­der­son in the sev­enth round of the 2014 draft out of the Uni­ver­sity of Mi­ami. He earned the start­ing job at right tackle as a rookie and started 26 games be­fore be­ing di­ag­nosed with the disease.

Fet­tner called the NFL’s rea­son­ing to ban mar­i­juana murky be­cause it is le­gal in nu­mer­ous states across Amer­ica.

He also ques­tioned why the league doesn’t con­sider mar­i­juana to be an ef­fec­tive treat­ment in cer­tain cases.

“They’ll give you painkillers by the bot­tle, which are far, far worse than cannabis,” Fet­tner said. “For some rea­son, the NFL isn’t there yet.”

He said Hen­der­son hasn’t given up on con­tin­u­ing his play­ing ca­reer, but ac­knowl­edged his client faces a weighty de­ci­sion.

“The re­al­ity of it is, it’s a ques­tion of per­sonal wealth and pain man­age­ment,” Fet­tner said.

BILL WIPPERT — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In this file photo, Buf­falo Bills of­fen­sive tackle Seantrel Hen­der­son watches the ac­tion against the Carolina Pan­thers dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NFL pre­sea­son foot­ball game, in Or­chard Park, N.Y. The NFL has sus­pended Bills of­fen­sive tackle Seantrel Hen­der­son for 10 games for what the player’s agent tells the As­so­ci­ated Press stems from his client us­ing mar­i­juana to re­lieve the ef­fects of Crohn’s disease. The Bills an­nounced the league no­ti­fied them on Tues­day of Hen­der­son’s sus­pen­sion for vi­o­lat­ing the league’s sub­stance abuse pol­icy.

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