Okay, look, I know I have been writing a lot about the Zachary Orr situation over the past few days, but the fact that I’m churning out another one is really not my fault. This one chose me, because some Schmuck in Baltimore is now arguing, like a slighted girlfriend, that the NFL should not allow him to return to play.
You may have picked up in the introductory paragraph there that I capitalized ‘Schmuck’, because the man behind the missive in this case is none other than Baltimore Sun scribe Peter Schmuck, who lives up to his name with his take on the matter.
To be fair, it’s not an altogether reasonable take from a Baltimore perspective. You see, it was Baltimore’s team doctors and networking physicians who initially evaluated Orr after suffering an injury that led to the discovery of a congenital spinal issue that they determined would present a serious risk of paralysis should he continue to play.
A three-year veteran, Orr elected to retire to the game as he was slated to become a restricted free agent, and because their own doctors made the determination, the Ravens’ front office was confident that the medical diagnosis was sound, and final, and thus did not even consider extending him a restricted free agent tender.
Because they did not do so, however, he now is able to return as an unrestricted free agent with the ability to sign with any team with no repercussions toward them in the form of reimbursements for the Ravens. And for their part, there seems to be substantial, though not universal, belief that they should move on based on their original diagnosis.
Schmuck asks, however, what has changed since then, and he seems to gloss over the fact that he has received multiple secondary evaluations of his condition and of the risks involved, and the simple reality is that it is an issue so rare that there is no real sample size from which to judge.
Yet he believes that “it’s not worth the risk to his long-term health and the Ravens would be wise to stay out of the picture”, even though it is unlikely that he is privy to any of the details of their actual medical evaluation, or would even be able to understand it if he were.
He also goes so far as to write that “NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, hopefully still stinging from the sport’s concussion scandal, should make sure” that he is unable to return to the game, which seems to be a rather strong take.
An NFL team is not going to sign Orr if they give him a medical evaluation and reach the same conclusion that the Ravens did. It’s really that simple. Even from an economic standpoint, it makes little sense to invest in such a potentially combustible commodity, to remove as much humanity as possible from the equation. The league shouldn’t, and shouldn’t have to, intervene in the process.
Reportedly, the Ravens liked Orr so much that they were already in discussions about a contract extension before it was revealed that he had this spinal condition. As a player and as a person, he is still extremely well-liked in Baltimore, and some there even would like to see him come back. But their doctors seem to have spoken, and some Schmucks want the league to speak as well.