From undrafted rookie out of North Texas to the Baltimore Ravens leading tackler this past season, 24-year-old linebacker Zach Orr was on the verge of NFL stardom – perhaps already scraping greatness in a position once held by door-smashing Ray Lewis. Today, the blossoming NFL star announced his sudden retirement – similar to Chris Borland’s early retirement at the same age – which is due to a congenital neck and spine condition.
Per NFL.com, Orr naturally handled the entire situation – pre and post retirement – with class..
Orr’s agent, Rob Sheets, said neck specialist Andrew Dossett informed Orr two weeks ago of his condition. Dossett told Orr his C1 vertebra was only 80 percent formed and that he would be unable to pass a physical to play football again, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported.
“(Dossett) hadn’t even closed the door, and Zach turned to me and said, ‘Are you going to be OK?'” Sheets said, per Garafolo. “The kid was about to get the most traumatic information he’d receive in his life and the first thought he had was for his agent, not himself. If that doesn’t speak to the character of the man, I don’t know what does.”
In addition to his ailing neck, Garafolo added that Orr “was playing with a cracked bone in his shoulder late in the season.” He missed the team’s final game of the season with what the team deemed a neck issue. He was placed on injured reserve.
It’s a story that really grasps the type of person Zach Orr was and continues to be off the field. On the field, however, he’ll be tough to replace. This past season, Orr and former first-round pick C.J. Mosley spear-headed a 2016 Ravens unit that finished fifth against the run, seventh in total yards allowed, and ninth in points per game allowed (20.1). While he’d yet to garner a mainstream nickname yet, the Wild Orr was just on the cusp of presentation.. we can assume.
Entering restricted free agency this offseason, Orr was also likely to earn a very significant bump in salary. Instead, Baltimore may need to scrape the 2017 NFL Draft for some young blood ready to step in to the Wild Orr’s legendary shoes.