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Zack Follett to be released 10 months after neck injury

Zack Follett AP

The cruel side of football will take center stage in Detroit Wednesday, when the Lions are expected to announce the release of linebacker Zack Follett.

The third-year linebacker was momentarily paralyzed last year after a hit that knocked him out for the season. The 2009 seventh-round pick had worked his way into the starting lineup, but was forced to injured reserve after visits to neck and spine specialists.

Follett was in camp with the Lions and made a good early impression. But Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press said neck pain prevented him from participating in hitting drills.

“Respect to [coach Jim] Schwartz, [G.M. Martin] Mayhew, and [Lions President Tom] Lewand didnt want to risk a life threatening injury after seeing my pain, Someone had to make the tough decision!” Follett wrote on Twitter.

Follett said his neck was “on fire” at camp.  It seems like he knew he could no longer play.

“Much as I fought to give it a go just wasnt in His plan. No longer a Lion. God has me filled with plenty of Joy #GodbethegloryThanks!” Follett wrote.

The story is a reminder how fleeting an NFL career can be. One play essentially ended Follett’s lifelong dream.

UPDATE: The Lions waived Follett.  He did not have the waive/injured tag because he passed the team physical.  Hmmm.

“He was waived healthy. He obviously did pass our physical. We had multiple medical opinions, dating back to his injury last year,” team President Tom Lewand said.

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30 Responses to “Zack Follett to be released 10 months after neck injury”
  1. seabreezes51 says: Aug 3, 2011 9:47 AM

    Time to move on with your life’s work Zach.
    Best of luck to you

  2. thephantomstranger says: Aug 3, 2011 9:48 AM

    Follett sounds like a great guy. I’m sure he’ll do well in the next phase of his life.

  3. goawayeverybody says: Aug 3, 2011 9:49 AM

    That is so sad. Good luck with everything Zach.

  4. m2karateman says: Aug 3, 2011 9:51 AM

    As a Lions fan, I can’t express how sad a story this is. I can only be thankful the play he got hurt on didn’t result in his permanent paralysis. He has an opportunity to live a normal life. Hopefully Zack has a future as a coach somewhere and can remain tied to the game in that capacity.

    As a Lions player, he will be missed. Great passion, great heart, great attitude. Best of luck, Zack.

  5. cleverbob says: Aug 3, 2011 9:53 AM

    Very inspiring that he was able to battle back onto the field at all. Although his football career is over, I’m sure with his drive he’ll be a success off the field.

  6. captainwisdom8888 says: Aug 3, 2011 9:56 AM

    This is very loosely related, but I’ve been intrigued by the notion of implementing a weight limit into the NFL (300 pounds?). If players were generally smaller, gameplay would be slightly quicker and injuries would probably be less persistent. Think about it…no more players the size of small building clashing their fat stomachs together sumo-style, instead we would be watching players of more modest size and increased athletic ability making for a more entertaining spectacle to watch.

    280 Lb offensive lineman sprinting 60 yards downfield to continue blocking…..sweeeeeeet!

  7. darthhitman says: Aug 3, 2011 9:59 AM

    As a Lions fan this one hurts…Zach has been a fan favorite since day 1. Great guy, great character, always with his head up trusting in God and always giving 110%. Good luck with the next chapter of your life man, you will be remembered my friend…just ask Mike Utley

  8. hatesycophants says: Aug 3, 2011 10:14 AM

    Unfortunate for Follett. However, “always with his head up trusting in God?” What the hell does that have to do with anything? Organized religion is destroying this great country and has taken a huge toll on the rest of the world as well.

    Go Lions! Go Badgers!

  9. motorcitykitties says: Aug 3, 2011 10:20 AM

    I’ll always respect your intensity. Good luck Zack.

  10. tradeassociation says: Aug 3, 2011 10:22 AM

    Oh gee, where are the player bashers, literally player haters, who filled this site with their vicious invective all spring and summer long during the lockout? Where are they? I wonder if they will show their faces – excuse me, their screen names – on this thread. Somehow, I doubt it.

  11. Grulks says: Aug 3, 2011 10:28 AM

    “No longer a Lion”

    With due respect, I would disagree Mr Follett.

    You will -always- be a Detroit Lion.

    -Cowboys fan, who wishes you nothing but the best in your future.

  12. tigers182 says: Aug 3, 2011 10:35 AM

    What a shame. The team and the city are really going to miss him.

  13. vahawker says: Aug 3, 2011 10:45 AM

    seriously tradeassociation? Guy was close to being paralyzed and you are still whining because a bunch of people didn’t agree with your stance on the BUSINESS side of the game?

    There were a few sub human idiots calling for people to get hurt, but given their obviously limited mental facilities, its amazing you still think about them. Time to let it go.

    Follet obviously is a class act…blessings on his life.

  14. jmp31671 says: Aug 3, 2011 10:45 AM

    I agree with the Cowboys fan above. You may no longer be playing for the Lions, but you will always be a Lion. We will miss you, but we wish you all the best and a happy life in the future.

  15. thousandcasts says: Aug 3, 2011 10:54 AM

    “Unfortunate for Follett. However, “always with his head up trusting in God?” What the hell does that have to do with anything? Organized religion is destroying this great country and has taken a huge toll on the rest of the world as well.”

    Gee, moron, I don’t know…maybe it has something to do with the fact that Follet is a religious person and hasn’t been afraid to show that faith?

  16. hatesycophants says: Aug 3, 2011 11:04 AM

    @thousanddouche,

    That is a mighty Christian explanation. If you pseudo-Christian are correct about he afterlife and there is some mythical eutopia the “good” are rewarded with, the overwhelming majority of you trash aren’t getting in. You should have stopped at “Gee, moron, I don’t know…”

  17. jspyle says: Aug 3, 2011 11:04 AM

    Good luck Zach. You have made us all proud in back here in your hometown of Clovis, CA and its no surprise. You folks should know Zach was a star for Clovis High (Go Cougars!!!!), but never held himself above his teammates, he was a true team player. That ethic went with him to Cal and carried him through to the NFL. Never the man in the spot light, just a guy happy to be given a chance to reach for his dreams. No entourages, no fur coats, just a straight taking down home guy that would look you in the eye and shake your hand. I typically say you shouldnt let your kids look to athletes as role models, but Zach Follet is one of those exceptions. Good luck with your future Zach and thank you for the memories. You are a positive reminder of what can happen when foks work hard for something.

  18. tradeassociation says: Aug 3, 2011 11:10 AM

    vahawker:

    Yes, I am serious. And player injuries is a part of the BUSINESS side of the game. Those folks – which presumably includes YOU – did not want to take into account the very short NFL careers (due to injury and wear and tear on their bodies) or the severe injury risk (the highest in professional sports). Instead of comparing the salary structure of the NFL to other professional sports (i.e. the NBA, NHL, MLB … you are aware that of those, NFL players are the lowest paid, have the shortest careers, and are the only ones without guaranteed contracts!) those folks – which presumably includes YOU – took the position that the players should be satisfied with whatever they get, accept whatever the owners decided to give them, and anyone who had an opposite position was OBVIOUSLY anti-business, against capitalism, the free market, success, America, etc.

    Were you one of those folks who claimed that DeMaurice Smith was attempting to destroy the NFL because of his hatred for free enterprise and his resentment of the success of the owners (basically the same talking points directed at Obama by the folks on talk radio, Fox News and Townhall.com)? Where are those folks now, who were FURIOUS that Smith had the TEMERITY to reject an 18 game season (because of the injury factor) and an extra billion off the top back in March?

    So yes, I do raise this, because it is the perfect time to. Follett played 3 years, didn’t make nearly enough to provide for himself the rest of his life because he was making the rookie minimum at that time (but the players are “overpaid” right?) and now has to earn a living with a catastrophic spine injury that greatly limits his choice of workplaces and occupations, and may require expensive medical care down the road (good luck getting insurance because of that pre-existing condition!).

    So you showed up. I disagree with what you said, but I give you credit for showing up. Where are all of your buddies?

  19. tradeassociation says: Aug 3, 2011 11:17 AM

    hatesycophants:

    You should shorten your handle to merely “hate” because that is far more accurate.

  20. golions1 says: Aug 3, 2011 11:22 AM

    You gave it everything you had to give Zach. You never quit. Be proud of what you did with the Lions.

  21. camssportsjam says: Aug 3, 2011 11:33 AM

    I remember seeing this dude get into a cage with an actual Lion on the Jim Rome show, one of my favorite Lions players, real tough cookie. Best of luck Zack

  22. detroitkillas says: Aug 3, 2011 11:48 AM

    WELL SAID -hatsycophants—YOU ARE SO RIGHT!!!! -Their are still alot of people BRAINWASHED With religion… And its all bad,,,,, just look at the child molester warren jeffs and his religion,, And they are all the same!!!– BAD for mankind..MOST OF ALL KEEP IT OUT OF ALL SPORTS!!!!!!!!ITS SUCH B.S. that we have to hear it all the time

  23. thefirstsmilergrogan says: Aug 3, 2011 11:49 AM

    hate: you were nearly right- he could have stopped with just gee moron. because you are.

    now, i’m not a religious person, but i bet you (or I) would be desperately looking for some divine assistance as we lay in a hospital paralyzed.

    and for you to take the time to denigrate this young man for an expression of his religion; whatever it be, as he bids goodbye to his life’s dream seems classless at best.

    i’m thinking that if this young man’s faith is helping him at this most difficult time, then (insert your own deity here) bless him.

  24. andyreidisfat says: Aug 3, 2011 12:02 PM

    hatesycophants says:
    Aug 3, 2011 10:14 AM
    Unfortunate for Follett. However, “always with his head up trusting in God?” What the hell does that have to do with anything? Organized religion is destroying this great country and has taken a huge toll on the rest of the world as well.

    Go Lions! Go Badgers!

    Post of the year !!!! God didn’t save this kid, DOCTORS DID. Along his friends and Family. these nut cases believing they can pray stuff away is truly hurting the rest of us who know you have to get to work to fix stuff. Not ask the fake man in the sky to fix it.

    Bravo to the kid for making the right choice here. To many players play when they shouldn’t then we have things like what happened to Andre Watters happen. And i don’t care what anyone says I personally have PCS from hockey as a teen and i know what the depression is like.

    Players need to make the right choice about if its worth it. I know its a lot of money but money can’t buy time and you will lose time if you play football when you shouldn’t be. I am for a mandatory exit of the game if a concussion happens. Or even if there are no signs of concussion and a player is knocked out at all he should leave the game. Also i think the equipment companies who for so long have been making the equipment into weapons should try to make something protective and make a hans type device for players to protect their necks

  25. vahawker says: Aug 3, 2011 12:30 PM

    Well TA. YOU obviously never read my posts because I was clear that I didn’t care what the terms of a settlement were. I just wanted the players to man up and negotiate instead of running to court. And the whole three year career lineis true but misleading because the overwhelming majority of players careers don’t end due to injury, they end because the player is not good enough to stick around.

  26. laurinaitis4mvp55 says: Aug 3, 2011 12:39 PM

    As a Rams fan, I was at the game two years ago when Zach absolutley ROCKED Amendola on a kick return. Its plays like that which excite fans when watching football.

    Good luck Zach, best of luck in your future

  27. hatesycophants says: Aug 3, 2011 2:52 PM

    I have no problem with anyone’s “faith.” My post decries organized religion. Your “faith” is your personal business, but organized religion has been responsible for most wars throughout history, most bigotry and the deaths/enlsavement of tens of millions of human beings. I might add that the Bible says when you pray, don’t stand on the street corners and pray so that everyone can see you, go into your closet and the Father who is in secret will reward you openly. Paraphrased, but very close.

    Go Lions! Go Badgers!

  28. jspyle says: Aug 3, 2011 4:52 PM

    Hey HC, I dont agree that you dont have a problem with his faith. His comments showed his faith, and you critized him. If I’m not incorrect the following is your statement……

    “Unfortunate for Follett. However, “always with his head up trusting in God?” What the hell does that have to do with anything? Organized religion is destroying this great country and has taken a huge toll on the rest of the world as well. ”

    You both have the RIGHT to express your views, but it was you that brought it up as a problem, not Mr. Follet. He just spoke as he feels is correct, but you critized him. As an American citizen, does he not have the right to express his views? And what exactly do your feelings about “organized” religion have to do with Mr. Follets statements about not being able to play fottball any longer? I dont see the connection.

    I just see someone that wants to pursue their own agenda regardless of the topic. You seem to be one of those folks who derive pleasure from peeing in someone elses Wheaties. This is likely the highlight of your day. I hope you enjoyed yourself.

    Oh and by the way, I live in his old hometown of Clovis which is indeed conservative, but I am not a Christian, I’m person of scientific convictions. The difference between you and I is that I am not threatened by those who think different than I.

  29. kindasporty says: Aug 3, 2011 5:47 PM

    The guy is a football player, not a philosopher or theologian. If a priest told me Ahman Green was the greatest player ever, I’d take it with a grain of salt and move on. If a football tells me what god he believes in then I take it with a grain of salt and move on. As a player Follet was a hell of a story and I really do wish he could have gone further in his NFL career.

  30. bcar1023 says: Aug 5, 2011 10:07 PM

    jspyle – while I respect your beliefs and wish more shared in your sense of humility, science and God are not mutually exclusive. There are plenty of us out here that believe while studying and using science in our daily lives.

    Go Lions!!
    God Bless you Zack!

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