Seantrel Henderson, the 7th round draft pick in 2014, out of the University of Miami, and starting right tackle of the Buffalo Bills, was diagnosed late in the 2015 season with Crohn’s Disease. He missed the last 3 games of the season after undergoing surgery to remove part of his intestine. This can be a debilitating disease and could possibly cut his promising NFL career short.
Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune disease, most commonly characterized as chronic inflammation of the intestines. There is no known cure, but with treatment, remission is possible. For those afflicted with this nightmare, daily life can be a struggle. The immune system of an individual with Crohn’s Disease “attacks” not only the intestines, but can also affect any portion of the digestive tract. It also prevents absorption of vitamins and nutrients that are vital to keep the body strong and healthy. There are several factors that can bring about a flare, which is when the disease is active. Stress, certain foods, and sometimes nothing in particular can bring the onset of symptoms. Symptoms include abdominal pain (which can be severe), diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue and bleeding.
Those diagnosed with this sometimes debilitating disease are advised to avoid any foods that are difficult for the body to digest. Seeds, leafy green vegetables, nuts, raw vegetables, high fiber foods, and meats like steak are some foods to eliminate from the diet.
While a person with Crohn’s Disease can live a somewhat normal life with treatment, an athlete dealing with this has a much tougher road.
Henderson, as an NFL athlete is in a precarious situation as it pertains to his career. With his body unable to absorb nutrients, it brings on weakness and fatigue. Vitamin supplements can help, but those too can fail to be absorbed by the body.
Having had surgery to remove the affected portion of his intestines, Henderson is undoubtedly feeling better at this point. It is important to consider that this may change at any time and leave him too fatigued and pained to play.
Credit must be given to Henderson for the toughness he is showing by trying to resume his career. I have Crohn’s Disease as well and it is difficult for me to imagine him being able to play and do so at a high level. The fatigue that is brought on is quite severe and would have to affect his play. There are many days where just getting out of bed is an enormous task. His strength and fortitude is to be admired.
Let us assume that Henderson will be healthy enough to play this season. How long will it last? Will he be able to keep the chronic fatigue at bay?
It is truly sad that this young man, with the promise he has shown to be a solid NFL tackle, may have his career cut short due to something beyond his control. He is truly an inspiration. Is his career in jeopardy? Only his body knows.