With news of New Orleans Saints DT Nick Fairley’s heart condition breaking last week, there was already speculation beginning about Fairley’s NFL future. However, as details emerge, there might be room for optimism about Fairley’s long-term health.
#Saints DL Nick Fairley had a heart condition that came up in his pre-draft physical. The one being checked out & tested now is the same one— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 4, 2017
But what does an NFL analyst know? Rapoport, while known in the sports word is far from a leading medical expert. But wait:
My thoughts on why #NickFarley career unlikely over despite heart condition. https://t.co/7WHWk7SKAZ https://t.co/xFDcs42TKX— David J. Chao, MD (@ProFootballDoc) June 5, 2017
In the piece linked by former NFL doctor Dr. David Chao, he gives Saints fans cautious optimism about the player recently re-signed by the New Orleans Saints.
Fairley was detected to have a heart condition at the Combine in 2011... Since then he has undergone yearly physicals with the Lions and then passed a physical with the Rams in 2015 and Saints in 2016. Multiple doctors were aware of the heart issue detected at the Combine and would be careful to follow up.
This is Fairley’s second year with New Orleans. Certainly, he had a full physical before signing. He played with the condition at Auburn and then for six NFL seasons without issue while other orthopedic ailments have landed him on injured reserve...The hope and expectation is that the additional tests are all precautionary. Chances are excellent that Fairley’s career is not over and the headlines are overstated.
It’s important to note that while Dr. Chao is certainly a more qualified person to render an opinion than Ian Rapoport, he is still basing his asserts and “expectation” off of guesswork and assumptions. He has not viewed Fairley’s medical records and is basically concluding that simply because he has passed physicals in the past, he is fine right now. Dr. Chao does concede that point:
Perhaps something changed with his annual team physical, or it is possible his previously detected heart condition has changed or worsened.
So let’s sit back and cross our fingers that Dr. Chao’s conclusion is accurate and Fairley will be ready to go for Week 1 and the 2017 regular season. If not, there aren’t many intriguing names left for the Saints to look at in free agency as a replacement.