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.