Zachary Orr always knew he wanted to work in the NFL when his playing days were over.
"I just get a quicker start now," the former Ravens linebacker said.
Orr, who retired this offseason because of a congenital spine condition, will join the Ravens' coaching and personnel staffs this season.
He'll shadow Linebackers Coach Don "Wink" Martindale during the season, as well as sit in on special teams meetings, and will transfer over to the personnel side evaluating players during the offseason.
It's more of an internship for now, but the hope is for Orr to catch on full time.
"Zach will be getting exposure to both the coaching and personnel departments with the Ravens," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said.
"He'll spend time learning about coaching at this level, and he'll learn the ropes with our scouts. We look forward to working with him as he makes the transition from being an active player."
Orr retired once soon after the season ended, then tried to make to make a comeback when outside doctors told him that his spinal condition shouldn't put him at risk.
Team doctors did not agree. Orr visited six teams, including the Ravens, in person and talked to another 11 over the phone. For different reasons, no teams would clear him to play. Thus, Orr decided to retire again – for good.
After his first retirement press conference, Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti reached out to Orr to send his best wishes. He asked Orr if he would be interested in returning to the organization in a non-player role.
"I lit up. I was like, 'Of course!'" Orr said. "I still want to be around this game, especially an opportunity to work with some of the best coaches and some of the best front-office personnel in the league. It's a great opportunity for me to learn and grow."
Last week, Orr visited the Ravens' Under Armour Performance Center to finalize his role. He watched practice and hung out with his teammates – just like old times. He said it "felt like home."
But Orr said it didn't make him yearn to play again. Orr has lost a considerable amount of his bulk, and laughed that he didn't remember practices being so physical.
"It wasn't painful at all," he said. "I was eager to see how it was going to feel, but I didn't have any of that. Now that I feel like I sought out every opportunity and left no stone unturned, I'm truly at peace with it. I was just excited to be out there."
Orr said that right now, he's leaning more toward a future career in the personnel/scouting part of the game. He said he's always enjoyed studying film and evaluating players. Coaching should help give him a better general knowledge of the game and bolster his resume.
This is a journey that Newsome, a Hall of Fame tight end, is quite familiar with. After his playing days were over, then-Cleveland Browns Owner Art Modell let Newsome get a taste of both coaching and scouting. Bill Belichick was the head coach and Ernie Accorsi, who is now in the New York Giants' Ring of Honor, ran the personnel department.
Ultimately, Newsome stayed on the personnel side of the game and has become one of the most highly-respected general managers – and first African-American general manager – in the NFL.
"It's a great opportunity," Orr said. "I'm thankful because, like I always said, I love football. I still want to be around the game. Even though I can't play anymore, I still love everything about it."