Nick Fairley had the best season of his career last year for the Saints, racking up 6.5 sacks in 16 starts and earning himself a new $28 million contract with New Orleans. However, the Saints placed him on the non-football injury list this afternoon after doctors evaluated the heart condition that Fairley has been playing with throughout his professional career. He will miss this upcoming season.
Fairley apparently consulted with a pair of doctors about whether or not he should continue playing professional football. Their verdicts were split, and he sought a third opinion to break the tie, as Saints coach Sean Payton said earlier this month.
“He’s gotten two professional opinions,” Payton said at the time. “The first one was one that advised that he shouldn’t play football again. The second opinion was a little different, and he’s getting a third opinion or he’s already gotten a third opinion, we’re waiting on that opinion.”
Fairley’s contract is backloaded and laden with incentives, as is the norm in the NFL, so it’s doubtful that he’ll see the bulk of it. He could still play again, but heart conditions are serious and potentially life-threatening, and it certainly seems like his was thoroughly evaluated.