Baltimore Ravens linebacker, Zach Orr, announced his retirement on Friday.
Orr, who was an undrafted rookie out of the University of North Texas in the 2014 National Football League Draft, went on to become the leading tackler on the team during the 2016-17 NFL season. Many NFL analysts believed that Orr was due for a large payday because of his sudden returns as a tackling talent. Unfortunately for Orr, however, a congenital neck and spine condition have forced him to retire from football at only 24 years of age. Orr had a CAT scan at the end of the regular season that revealed his first cervical vertebrae on the top of his spine had never formed. Orr risks paralysis or fatality should he continue to play football.
“When I first found out the news, it was shocking,” admitted Orr. “I was sad, disappointed, upset, because football is something I’ve done my whole life, and something I love, and still love to this day.”
Orr finished this regular season with 132 combined tackles, including two that he got on special teams as a backup. Even though he missed the final game of the season, the 132 tackles from Orr is the third highest single season tackles number in the past decade of Ravens football. He trails only two time Super Bowl Champion linebacker, Ray Lewis who had 139 tackles in 2010 and 134 tackles in 2009.
“I feel like my hands were kind of tied,” said Orr. “I won’t be able to pass a physical. If I could pass a physical, who knows? I would probably take that chance.”