Former Ravens inside linebacker Zachary Orr has ended his comeback attempt.
Less than two months after announcing he intended to play again despite being diagnosed with a congenital spinal condition at the end of last season, the 25-year-old will remain retired, after all. In an article published by The Players’ Tribune on Friday, Orr wrote that 17 other NFL teams would not clear him to resume his football career, expressing too much concern about his underdeveloped C-1 vertebrae at the top of his spine as well as the herniated disc he suffered last December.
“I couldn’t get one to give me the green light,” Orr wrote. “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.”
After being told by Ravens team doctors that he would be risking paralysis or even death by continuing his career, Orr announced his retirement in January, just two weeks after being named a second-team All-Pro selection by the Associated Press. Not ready to completely close the door on his NFL dream, Orr sought and found a favorable second opinion about his condition later in the offseason, but he made it clear that any criticism directed toward the Ravens over the matter was unfair.
“The Ravens didn’t believe they needed a second opinion,” Orr wrote. “They put my health and my well being — they put me as a person — ahead of their football interests, and I appreciated that. That’s why, to me, Baltimore is a first-class organization.”
Orr led the team with 130 tackles last season, his first as a starter. The former undrafted free agent out of North Texas was scheduled to become a restricted free agent this offseason and likely would have received a second-round tender worth $2.75 million if not for his retirement.
He refuted any accusation that he had tried to cheat the system when he unexpectedly became a free agent able to sign with any team after his June announcement.
“That’s not even the slightest bit true,” wrote Orr, who added that he took another physical with the Ravens in June and still couldn’t pass. “And that doesn’t even make sense because I didn’t want to become a free agent.
“I wanted to be a Raven.”