So why did recently-retired linebacker Zachary Orr unretire? As one league source put it on Wednesday morning, “He found a doctor who told him what he wanted to hear.”
The real question is whether Orr will find a doctor with one of the NFL’s various teams that will do the same thing. If the Ravens’ doctors thought Orr could have played without an unacceptable degree of risk due to a rare neck condition that could result in a serious, life-changing injury, he wouldn’t have been “forced” to retire in January.
Whether Orr will be able to continue his career will hinge on whether a doctor is willing to sign off on Orr’s ability to perform in a safe and adequate manner, without risk of a serious neck injury. Although some doctors will say whatever the person paying them wants the doctor to say, most won’t be inclined to put their name on a document that could become the gateway to a debilitating injury.
Surely, the Ravens would have liked to keep Orr around. He went from undrafted free agent to the team’s leading tackler in 2016. In Baltimore, doctors were able to set that aside and opt for a recommendation aimed at ensuring the player’s long-term health and safety. If any other doctor with any other team comes to a different conclusion, it will be interesting to hear the reasoning for it, because that doctor will essentially be saying the Ravens doctors got it wrong.