As linebacker Zachary Orr tries to talk his way back into the NFL at a time when the team that previously employed him decided he can’t safely play, many are skeptical regarding his ability to receive medical clearance — and regarding the story he’s telling about past medical advice he received.
The recent claim by Orr that he retired based on only one medical opinion isn’t being received well by those who understand how the process works. As one said, it’s “beyond ridiculous” to believe that a team, a player, and/or an agent wouldn’t obtain multiple opinions on a career-ending injury.
Indeed it is. The Ravens had every reason to want Orr to be able to play. The doctors paid by the Ravens, in turn, had a strong incentive to err on the side of saying, “Sure, he can play.” With both the player and the team wanting to hear that Orr can play, there’s no way Orr would have retired based on one doctor sounding an alarm that he can’t.
For Orr, the challenge continues to be finding a doctor (or more than one) employed by a team that wants to employ Orr who won’t sound the alarm. In this climate of heightened sensitivity to player health and safety, who’s going to put his or her name on the bottom of the document that authorizes Orr to walk into the potentially enhanced risk of serious injury or death?
The risk of serious injury or death, small as it may be, exists for all NFL players. If it were to happen to anyone but Orr, it would be a gigantic problem for the game. If it were happen to Orr after he had retired due to the risk of serious injury or death due to a rare neck condition, it would push that problem to a far higher level.
At a time when some believe the league office has gotten the word out to the teams to not sign Colin Kaepernick (I personally don’t), it’s far more plausible to believe that 345 Park Avenue will be applying pressure on the various franchises to not give Orr medical clearance to play.