In January of 2017, former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr took the podium at the team's training facility alongside head coach John Harbaugh, GM Ozzie Newsome and defensive coordinator Dean Pees, to announce he would be retiring from football at the age of 24.
Why? Orr suffered a shoulder injury during their week 16 game against longtime rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, which shed light into a condition he's had since birth.
He had a routine MRI, but the Ravens training staff suggested a full body CAT scan as well. The CAT scan reveled Orr had a congenital back/spine condition where one of the upper vertebra isn't totally formed causing there to be an opening. Less than 1 percent of people are born with such a condition and he wasn't aware of it until he suffered this injury.
Doctors told Orr he was at risk of paralysis or even death if he played with such a condition. He also would have never been able to pass an NFL physical, ultimately forcing him to retire.
During his press conference, Orr said this,
"If there's some miracle way where I can play the game, I promise I'd be the first one to grab my cleats again, start back training and try to find a way to get back out there," Orr said.
Well, fast forward to today and it seems that miracle may have happened.
NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo told Good Morning Football that after getting a second opinion from doctors, and receiving positive news, Orr is considering a return to the NFL.
"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. 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."
The doctors' real concerns would be if someone with Orr's spinal condition played with a herniated disk. He did suffer from herniated disks last season, but that injury has since diminished.
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If Orr does decide to get back into the NFL, getting signed could be pretty easy.
When he announced his retirement, he never filed for retirement papers and the Ravens never placed him on their reserve/retired list because they never thought he would play again.
Because of this, Orr is considered an unrestricted free agent and can sign with a team right away.
Orr had his best season in 2016, where he lead the Ravens in tackles with 133. It's been reported that eight teams have reached out to the linebacker since his announcement and that he will be meeting with the Lions on Thursday.