Zachary Orr a linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens made an announcement on Friday that he was retiring from the NFL after learning of his congenital spinal condition.
Orr, who is just 24, led Baltimore in tackles this season with 132. He became a Ravens player in 2014 when signed out of North Texas as a non-drafted free agent. He became a starter in 2016 at middle linebacker.
However, on Christmas Day, Orr suffered a neck injury against Pittsburgh and did not play in the season finale versus Cincinnati.
A subsequent examination has revealed that he herniated a disc. Follow up tests showed there was a deeper problem.
A CT scan then revealed the condition that he was born with and one that less than 1% of the world has. Orr said that the top part of his spine did not form completely and it puts him at a huge risk with a career in football.
Doctors told Orr he would not pass a team physical and playing football could prove life threatening, so his option was just to retire.
Orr told reporters that everyone that has looked into his situation was astounded that he had played so long without having anything major happen to him. He called it a blessing that he was able to play football for such a long period of his life.
As well as being the leading tackler for the Ravens this season, Orr intercepted three passes, forced one fumble and recovered two fumbles.
Fellow Baltimore linebacker C.J. Mosley said that Orr had an exception year and was able to leave on a high note.
General manager of the Ravens Ozzie Newsome was stunned to hear of the situation. He signed Orr following the NFL draft in 2014.
He added that he never expected he would hear something such as this and called Orr the most inspirational player to him the past three years.
Orr was given his chance to perform this season with Baltimore and in two games had 13 tackles, reached at least 10 tackles in another five and finished eighth overall in the NFL in tackles for the season.
Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees called Orr one of the smartest players he has ever known.
Terry, Orr’s father, was a tight end with the Washington Redskins for 8 seasons.
The younger Orr says he did not have any regrets leaving the league so early saying he has enjoyed playing since the age of 9.