Despite attempting a comeback after getting a second medical opinion, former Ravens All-Pro linebacker Zach Orr announced he is retiring from the NFL on Friday.
The 25-year-old linebacker retired first in January when doctors found a congenital spine issue that they worried increased his risk in paralysis and possibly death while playing football.
It seemed like that was the end, but Orr learned that some players have played with this issue and had no further complications. So he sought a second opinion and that doctor agreed.
The Detroit Lions were one of the very first teams to reach out Orr, considering their need for linebackers after cutting ties with DeAndre Levy and shuffling around new players. Orr also reportedly talked with 16 other teams, so it seemed certain Orr would find a home for the 2017 season.
However, as Orr wrote in his (second) farewell on The Players’ Tribune, no team was comfortable clearing him medically to play.
So if a team wasn’t bothered by the C-1, they were bothered by the herniated disc. Or the spots. It was always something.
Six teams in person, 11 more over the phone — that’s 17 teams, more than half the league — and I couldn’t get one to give me the green light. Because at the end of the day, my spine was too jacked up.
And no team wants to be the one that has a player die on the field.
While the Lions could always use more defensive playmakers, it appears they’ll be okay without him. Jarrad Davis has looked commanding as the starting middle linebacker, while early returns on Tahir Whitehead’s move back to the WILL spot are promising.
That being said, this is clearly best for Orr and his future. His health should always come first, and there’s no reason to risk an absolute tragedy if it’s avoidable. We wish Orr the best of luck in retirement.