Baltimore Ravens linebacker Zachary Orr retires after three seasons

 After a productive third season with the Baltimore Ravens, an injury is forcing linebacker Zachary Orr to call it a career.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Zachary Orr entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2014, playing mostly in special teams through his first two seasons. He stepped into a bigger role this season, starting 15 games, leading the Ravens in tackles and earning second-team All-Pro honors.

On Thursday night, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported the Ravens were progressing on a contract extension with Orr. On Friday morning, that positive news dramatically turned the other direction.

Orr is retiring at 24 years old, and Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun was first to report Orr’s serious injury as a congenital neck condition.

Orr reportedly played through a cracked bone in his shoulder late in the season. He then missed Week 17 with what was deemed to be a neck issue, with an MRI showing a herniated disc, and he was placed on IR before the regular season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.

During a Friday morning press conference, Orr confirmed his retirement and the diagnosis, which stems from the top of his spinal column not forming completely. That obviously puts him at serious risk of paralysis by playing football, and if not for the herniated disc in his neck the condition he was born with might not have been discovered.

Concussion concerns has led to the early retirement of multiple NFL players in recent years. Orr’s situation is slightly different, and he’s not the first to be forced into early retirement by a neck issue. A promising playing career has ended far too early, but Orr’s physical health later in life should be preserved.

This article originally appeared on