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Zach Orr shuts down comeback attempt, retires again

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For the second time since January, linebacker Zach Orr has announced his retirement at the age of 25 due to a rare congenital spine condition.

The former Ravens defender explained his decision in-depth on The Players' Tribune, writing: "Today, I'm officially retiring from professional football ... again. And I'm even more at peace this time around because the teams have spoken. If there was any way I could come back, I would."

We encourage you to read Orr's entire opus, chronicling his journey to undergo a second and third opinion on his spine, with a doctor in West Virginia and a specialist in Florida both agreeing that Orr could attempt to play again.

His desire was to rejoin the Ravens, but Orr was told by general manager Ozzie Newsome that "he would need to pass a physical."

"So the Ravens flew me up to Baltimore for a workout and a physical," Orr wrote. "But at the end of the day, their doctors stood by their initial decision and said they couldn't clear me to play -- not with my spinal condition. They said it was too big a risk, both for them and for me."

Becoming an unrestricted free agent, Orr says he visited "five more teams" and "interviewed with another 11 over the phone." No dice. The few clubs that felt Orr could play through the spinal condition still remained worried about the linebacker's herniated disc, which would require potentially dangerous surgery to repair.

Orr noted that a couple of teams "noticed little white spots on my spinal cord, which is a sign of damage to the cord as a result of my herniated disc. That was something else that could put me at an increased risk for a spinal cord injury."

Said Orr: "Six teams in person, 11 more over the phone -- that's 17 teams, more than half the league -- and I couldn't get one to give me the green light. Because at the end of the day, my spine was too jacked up.

"And no team wants to be the one that has a player die on the field."

Throughout his writeup, Orr emphatically cleared up any remaining whispers that he went out of his way to become an unrestricted free agent, repeatedly praising the Ravens and saying: "I wanted to end my career as a Raven. And even though it didn't happen the way I envisioned, I've done that."

"I'm just thankful that the Ravens gave me the opportunity," Orr said, "to show people the kind of player I could be before it was all over."

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