New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Nick Fairley hasn’t participated in the team’s offseason workouts, and coach Sean Payton told reporters Fairley is seeing doctors about a heart condition.
Fairley signed a 4-year, $28 million deal in the offseason, but one doctor told the 29-year-old to stop playing football due to the heart condition.
According to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, Fairley’s heart condition was apparent during his pre-draft physical in 2011. The Detroit Lions still drafted Fairley with the No. 13 overall pick in the first round out of Auburn.
Payton said the condition is “obviously a concern,” and he wants to ensure it’s safe for Fairley to play before he returns to the field.
“The most important thing right now in our mind is his well-being,” Payton told USAToday. “To play this game, there’s a little bit of mental toughness involved, obviously. I want to make sure, if in fact he’s playing it, again that he’s playing with full confidence that he’s healthy to play and that nothing severe would come of him playing.”
After spending the first four seasons of his career with the Lions and one year with the St. Louis Rams, Fairley had the best season of his career last year with the Saints. He recorded 6.5 sacks and 43 total tackles while starting all 16 games.
Losing Fairley would be a big blow to the Saints’ defense, but his longterm health is more important.
(h/t USA Today)