Former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr to attempt comeback
By Staff reports
The Baltimore Sun|
Jun 28, 2017 at 9:25 AM
"Now that I've gotten a taste of the game being taken away from me, I'm even more hungry to play," Orr said on “Good Morning Football.” (Baltimore Sun video)
Former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr might not be done playing football after all.
After a breakout season in 2016, Orr, 25, announced in January his retirement from the NFL after just three seasons because of a rare congenital spine condition. A postseason CT scan showed that his C1 vertebra isn't fully formed at the top of his spinal cord and would have put him at increased risk for paralysis, or worse, if he continued to play.
But Orr said today on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" show that he sought additional opinions from doctors about his spinal condition over the past few months after the initial shock wore off, and those opinions offered some hope.
"I had my mind made up. I was like, 'Man, the doctors told me I was done. This is a serious issue. So I'm going to leave it alone,'" Orr said, according to a report on NFL.com. "But I just kept hearing that from multiple people and some were telling me to just go check out and seek out some more opinions and things like that and come to find out my condition, it is rare — .01 percent of the people have what I have — but there's no actual evidence or facts that I'm at a higher risk than any other player. And it's actually been documented that a college player who had the exact same thing that I have that returned to play with no problems."
Later Wednesday morning, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome issued a statement that the team had discussed the matter with Orr.
"I spoke with Zach yesterday, and he informed me that he would like to continue to play football. He is a free agent," Newsome said.
In his first year as a starter in 2016 with the Ravens, Orr finished with 132 tackles, three interceptions, five passes defended, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries, and received some All-Pro recognition after forming a dynamic middle linebacker pairing with former first-round draft pick C.J. Mosley. The undrafted free agent out of North Texas in 2014 first made his mark on special teams his first two years before getting a chance to start at linebacker.
Orr aggravated a right shoulder injury in the Ravens' victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec.18. He hurt his neck the following week against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that ended the team's playoff hopes. He was put on injured reserve before the team's regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals. Orr said an MRI revealed he had a herniated disk in his neck.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Zachary Orr, 24, retires because of a spinal condition he has had since birth. (Baltimore Sun video)
Following the season, team doctors opted to have Orr undergo more extensive tests and that's when a CT scan discovered the spinal condition.
Orr comes from a football family. His father, Terry, played eight seasons as an NFL tight end, spending the majority of his career with the Washington Redskins. The oldest of Terry and Rita Orr's four sons, Terrance, is an assistant football coach at DeSoto High in Texas. Zachary Orr's two younger brothers, Nick and Chris, also play.
As the Ravens confirmed, Orr is an unrestricted free agent. He didn't file retirement papers in January and the Ravens didn't place him on their reserve/retired list, according to the report. Orr, who made approximately $1.5 million over his first three seasons, was in position to earn a lucrative restricted free-agent contract tender this offseason that could have paid him in excess of $2.5 million for 2017. The Ravens didn't offer him the tender, making him unrestricted.