The budding career of a Ravens linebacker has been cut short due to injury.
Zach Orr, 24, announced his retirement from the National Football League on Friday. He’s stepping away from the game because of a shocking discovery made by the Ravens medical staff after he suffered a neck injury on Christmas Day against the Steelers.
“I’m kind of forced to walk away from the game of football,” said Orr. “I got a CAT scan done. The CAT scan revealed I had a condition I was born with that less than one-percent of the world has. That pretty much the top of my C1, the top of my spine, I don’t know the exact term of it, it was never formed completely. That puts me at a real increased risk than anybody for fatality or being paralyzed."
The Ravens leading tackler from last season (132 tackles), and second-team All Pro, says his hands are tied. He has to hang up the cleats after only three professional seasons.
“I won’t pass a physical, which won’t allow me to play,” added Orr. “If I could pass a physical, who knows, I probably would take that chance.”
Orr was remarkably upbeat Friday but admits he has had emotional moments. His teammates, coaches and family are equally heartbroken.
“It’s definitely sad not to see him accomplish way more goals, show his true potential,” said Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley.
“We’re upset that it happened to us. But, yet we’re happy in the fact that he’s still walking, he can have kids and he can live a normal life,” said Ravens linebackers coach Don Martindale.
“Understanding that it could have been fatal or [he] could have been paralyzed, I’m happy he’s alive and moving well,” said Zach’s brother Terrance.
“Walking away, I can be at peace with that because I don’t have any regrets,” said Orr.
As far as the next step for Orr, he says he still has “love for the game” and eventually he wants to get into coaching.