"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 Zachary Orr has re-retired from the NFL after he met or spoke with 17 teams and could not find one that would clear him to play, either because of a herniated disk in his neck or the congenital spinal condition that caused him to retire in the first place.
Orr announced his decision in an article for The Players' Tribune, headlined "Always a Raven."
"Today, I'm officially retiring from professional football … again," Orr wrote. "And I'm even more at peace this time around because the teams have spoken. If there was any way I could come back, I would."
Orr, 25, revealed that when he initially decided to come back in June, after receiving an encouraging second opinion on his spinal condition, he flew to Baltimore to take another physical and work out for the Ravens.
He said Ravens doctors ultimately stood by their previous decision, made in January, not to clear him. "They said it was too big a risk, both for them and for me," he wrote. "That upset me a little bit because I wanted so badly to be a Raven again, but I understood."
At the time, the Ravens only put out a brief statement from general manager Ozzie Newsome, saying Orr was planning to come back and would be a free agent.
After he knew the Ravens weren't an option, Orr said he visited with five teams and interviewed with 11 more by phone. Some were concerned that his C-1 vertebrae, located just below the skull, was not fully developed. Others were more concerned about the herniated disk in his neck, which might require spinal fusion surgery and thus put more pressure on the underdeveloped C-1. Still others noted white spots on his spinal cord, which indicated damage from the herniated disk.
But the bottom line was the same.
"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."
Orr also clarified an earlier point of confusion about his initial retirement in January. At his news conference, he said he'd consulted with multiple specialists. But when he announced his comeback in June, he said he'd never received a second opinion.