At age 24, former Raven Zachary Orr is far from ready to hang up his cleats, if he has a choice.
Orr retired earlier this year after doctors discovered he had a congenital neck condition and that one of his vertebrae hadn’t fully developed. The somber news shocked the Ravens franchise, who had watched Orr elevate his play as a lineman last season. He led the team in tackles with 132, ranked third on the roster in interceptions and earned a second All-Pro team nod in his third year in the NFL.
“I’m blessed and thankful that I’m able to walk away from the game in good health,” he said in January.
But his health may be better than he was originally told. This morning, the linebacker told the NFL Network he’s since visited other doctors, who told him his condition doesn’t make it less safe for him to play football compared to an average healthy player.
Orr said ex-Baylor quarterback Seth Russell advised him to visit a West Virginia-based spine doctor who treated Russell in 2015. Multiple physicians subsequently told Orr he was well enough to play, with or without his spinal condition.
“As far as me physically, mentally, I’m ready to go,” Orr said on TV. “I’m feeling better than ever.”
Orr’s career is now wide open. While he left the game with a verbal pledge to retire, he never actually filed the paperwork, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network. And while he would have been a restricted free agent for the Ravens this summer, the team never offered him a tender, and the deadline to do so has passed.
Garafolo said Orr already has a meeting set with the Detroit Lions, and has informed the Ravens of his intention to come back to the NFL. The linebacker said he’s “eager to see” where he ends up.
His old teammates were understandably shocked about the news. A couple immediately jumped into recruitment mode.
@ZO35 is coming back???????? What news to wake up too…
— Eric Weddle (@weddlesbeard) June 28, 2017
Yoo @ZO35 … need me to pick u up or what ? 👀👀👀
— Tony Jefferson (@_tonyjefferson) June 28, 2017
— Michael Campanaro (@MikeCamp_12) June 28, 2017
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