Halapoulivaati Vaitai considered retirement after back surgery
Earlier this year, the Lions apparently considered moving on from offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai after he missed all of the 2022 regular season after undergoing back surgery. Vaitai apparently considered moving on from football.
“After surgery, I was like, ‘Let me just rest. Let me just enjoy this time,’” Vaitai said recently, via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. “And then when I started training again, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not ready to retire yet.’”
Vaitai said the back problem happened quickly, during the third preseason game last August. He said doctors “went in and took something out.”
He’s now fully committed to playing this year.
“I can’t leave all my guys,” Vaitai said, per Rogers. “I can’t leave them. I love this team a lot. I’m going to help [coach] Dan [Campbell] win one.”
The Lions added Graham Glasgow in free agent, partially as a hedge against Vaitai not being healthy.
Vaitai, who turns 30 next month, was a fifth-round pick of the Eagles in 2016. He signed with the Lions in 2020. He’s under a one-year, $3 million deal for 2023.