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Nick Fairley, ex-Lions first-rounder, has heart condition that jeopardizes career

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  • Nick Fairley, ex-Lions first-rounder, has heart condition that jeopardizes career

    Nick Fairley, ex-Lions first-rounder, has heart condition that jeopardizes career
    By Kyle Meinke |
    on June 08, 2017 at 3:51 PM, updated June 08, 2017 at 4:00 PM

    ALLEN PARK -- After playing through two years of prove-it deals, Nick Fairley finally landed the long-term payday he had long sought.

    Months later, his career is in jeopardy.

    The former Detroit Lions first-round pick has been diagnosed with a heart condition that one doctor says should end his career, according to Saints coach Sean Payton. Another doctor offered a differing opinion, so the club is awaiting the results of a third opinion before making a final determination on Fairley's future.

    The diagnosis comes after Fairley signed a four-year, $28 million deal with New Orleans this offseason.

    Detroit originally selected Fairley with the 13th overall pick in the 2011 draft. The defensive tackle was expected to form a punishing duo with Ndamukong Suh, who had been taken second overall the previous year.

    Suh liked to say Fairley was every bit as physically talented as him, too. But whereas Suh maximized his ability with a tireless work ethic, Fairley allowed his weight to balloon. His performances became unpredictable at best, and he never fully realized his considerable potential in Detroit.

    Then-GM Martin Mayhew tried to motivate Fairley by declining the fifth-year option on his rookie deal, which turned 2014 into a contract year for him. When that didn't work, then-incoming coach Jim Caldwell stripped Fairley of his starting spot in the preseason.

    Fairley responded by hiring a personal chef, recapturing his starting spot and turning in one of the best stretches of his Lions career -- until suffering a season-ending injury in Week 8. He never played for the Lions again.

    Wary of the issues with weight, injury and possible motivation, teams were reluctant to hand Fairley a long-term deal when he hit free agency in 2015. So he played the last two seasons on prove-it deals, first with the Rams and then again with the Saints last year.

    Fairley played well both years, but really broke through in New Orleans. He started all 16 games for the first time in his career, and recorded 43 tackles and 6.5 sacks, both personal bests. He was rated the 34th-best interior defender in the league according to ProFootallFocus -- better than any Lions player.

    With concerns about his weight and motivation beginning to subside, Fairley finally landed the long-term deal he had long sought.

    Now just like that, it's unclear whether he'll ever play again.

  • #2
    WOW! This is the kind of thing that usually bites the RAMS. Sorry for the Saints, and especially sorry for Fairley.



    • #3
      When he was with us I remember hearing about this but they decided as had been decided before it was non critical... But over time the condition could or as in this case seems to have worsened!
      Good luck to Nick he has the millions already if invested properly and wisely and safely with a large firm he should be good to go! Beware of individual accountants and investers Nick and you will and should be good for life and your family too!