Chris Singleton’s column: Fairley’s health is more important than football
By Chris Singleton Staff Writer
New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Nick Fairley has had a lot to deal with this offseason.
While most NFL players are getting ready for the upcoming season, Fairley is dealing with the possibility that his career could be over due to a heart-related issue.
The 29-year-old Fairley was placed on season-ending reserve/non-football illness list on Monday.
Fairley, a former Auburn University star, has played for the Detroit Lions, St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams and the Saints during his six seasons in the NFL. He has played with the heart condition his entire career.
He had symptoms related to an enlarged heart that caused him to miss offseason workouts and minicamp sessions this year.
It’s a huge blow for the Saints. Fairley is probably the team’s best defensive tackle.
He was a key cog in the middle of the line of scrimmage and a valuable part of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
He had a career-high 6.5 sacks and 22 quarterback hits last season, which was arguably his best since joining the league in 2011. He signed a four-year contract extension worth up to $28 million with the Saints.
The Saints will miss Fairley’s presence this season, but the most important concern should be about his health.
It’s a scary situation for all involved, especially for Fairley and his family. It’s more than just a normal football injury. It’s something that could put his life in jeopardy.
I’m sure Fairley wants to continue playing. He has played the game his entire life. He’s just 29 years old, so it’s hard to say goodbye to a sport you love playing, especially when you are in the prime of your career.
He has reportedly consulted three specialists this offseason to determine if he could keep playing.
I hope the advice that Fairley has received in the past few months and immediate future help him make the right decision going forward. It’s a lot for him to think about.
If he decides to continue his football career, I hope he returns in the best shape possible.
If he decides to move on, I wish him nothing but the best during the next chapter of his life.
Fairley’s absence will leave a big hole to fill along the Saints’ defensive line. His presence will be missed on the field this season, but Saints defensive tackles such as Sheldon Rankins, Tyeler Davison, David Onyemata and others will have to step up.