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What we know about the Zachary Orr situation, and my opinion

What is going on?

Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Zachary Orr situation is unusual. There’s a lot of smoke coming from this suspicious occurrence, and I think this article will help explain what I know, and what has been published across the media, in one single thread.

January 20: Zachary Orr retires

Blindsided were the fans, but after Zachary Orr received an X-ray from his shoulder injury, they found a ‘congenital neck issue’. The top of his spine wasn’t completely formed, leaving him at risk for serious injury in a high-octane, full-contact sport. The Ravens put together a press conference early that Friday morning to announce Orr’s retirement.

In an interview with Baltimore Ravens Staff Writer, Garrett Downing, Orr mentions the Ravens medical staff found the injury, and may have saved his life.

—This is something I want to touch up on, without going too ‘tinfoil’. The medical staff, of any team, sounds slightly biased. They want their players to play, and I belief they may err on the side of ‘he can play’, when forced upon. I don’t believe the Baltimore Ravens medical staff would close the door on their 24 year old All-Pro linebackers playing chances, unless it was necessary. They would search for different ways to keep him on their team.

But the biggest statement comes around the three minute mark of the video:

Garrett Downing: “Your dad was with you when you found out. What was that conversation—that first conversation with him, in making the decision that you’re going to have to retire?”

Zachary Orr: “Man, he was happy. He was kind of, like, hoping that I was, going to lean that way. Pretty much I don’t have a choice anyways. The doctors—I’ll never be able to pass a physical again.

—How is Zachary Orr going to play in the NFL if he cannot pass a physical? The Baltimore Ravens medical staff said he cannot pass a physical. The team that wants him to play for them. Wants him to produce multiple seasons more of All-Pro play, say he cannot pass a physical.

June 28: Zachary Orr returns

Orr himself, on national TV, announces his return to the NFL. He says there has been a college player documented with his same issue, who went on to play. He followed the advice of Baylor QB Seth Russell, a player with a spine issue in college football. Seek out a doctor in West Virginia, who took care of Russell. Orr followed the advice, and is now clear to play.

Takeaways from the interview:

“There’s no actual evidence or facts that I’m at a higher risk than any other player and it’s actually been documented as a college player who had the exact same thing that I have that returned to play with no problems.”

—Where everything gets interesting, folks. Orr never looked for a second opinion. He accepted the Ravens medical staff advice, and retired. He the finds a different doctor clearing him of his congenital neck issue, and there’s documented evidence there is a college player with the same exact injury, who returned to play with no problems.

This puts the Ravens medical staff in a vice:

If what Orr says is true, they pulled the trigger too early. They said he will never pass a physical again, and he cannot continue playing in the NFL. They didn’t do research, and the Ravens lost their linebacker. These bold statements also don’t allow them to backtrack. If the medical staff says he cannot pass a physical in January, but clears him six months later, they’re bad at their jobs or they’re shady and unprofessional. They’re boxed-in.

July 1: Mike Florio is confident the retirement wasn’t based on one doctor’s opinion

Orr claims he visited only one doctor, the Ravens Medical Staff, and they told him he could never play again. Florio goes on to say there’s no way a player or agent wouldn’t seek out multiple opinions on a career-ending injury.

July 3: Zachary Orr’s agent announces they won’t broadcast where Zachary Orr is visiting anymore.

Why would you not broadcast this? It helps bring leverage to sign your player when other teams are worried about where your player is visiting.

What I’m confused about:

  1. Why did the retirement come about so quickly. The Ravens checked him out, and I believe within 48 hours, maybe earlier, he announced his retirement. It was a sudden retirement on a Friday morning, and nobody saw it coming outside those involved.
  2. How does nobody ask about a second opinion? As an agent, your players are your job. Taking the word of one doctor is never normal. Most players seek out second opinions on everything. Even Orr didn’t go, “Are you sure?” and then go to another doctor anyway.
  3. Why is Orr’s agent hiding where Orr will be visiting now? It’s his job to market his players and get them deals. Using there travels is a key part to free agency. We all watched as the Jeremy Maclin deal unfolded, from visits with the Bills and Ravens. It was a big deal, and these things even effect General Managers. Hiding his travels seems so small, but it feels like a cover-up.

My opinion:

I think Orr and his agent screwed up. They rushed the retirement as Orr was overwhelmed with emotion, and his agent didn’t do his job. I think they didn’t get a second opinion, or they got another opinion that was negative, and rushed the retirement. But now, they’ve been given an opportunity.

Now, this agents 24-year-old All-Pro linebacker is an unrestricted free agent, and somehow they found clearance on his injury from yet another opinion. Now, his agent is doing his job, and finding his player the best deal possible. I don’t think he concocted this plan from the get-go, but it’s a boat-load of coincidence and now they’re taking advantage of the system.

I can’t speak on the Ravens medical staff. I have no knowledge in this field, and they’re trained professionals. Maybe they made a mistake in saying he’d never pass a physical, or maybe they’re right. Orr hasn’t cleared any physical with a team, or so they haven’t announced. Either way, the Ravens can’t sign Orr without backpedaling on their statement of, “He’ll never pass a physical again.”