We now know that Fairley has received at least one recommendation from a doctor to stop playing football, per Saints head coach Sean Payton.
Payton revealed Thursday that Fairley, who has an enlarged heart, had one doctor tell him that his heart condition should prevent him from playing football ever again. A second opinion, in Payton’s words, “was a little different.”
Fairley visited a third physician and is now awaiting word on what they say about his potentially career-threatening ailment. Payton said they hope to know more about Fairley’s future in the coming weeks.
Fairley’s enlarged heart has been known since before he was a first-round pick out of Auburn in 2011. It was first detected at the NFL scouting combine but was not believed to be a career-threatening condition at the time and has been common medical knowledge to both the Saints, for whom Fairley was a standout last season, and to the Detroit Lions, who drafted him, and the St. Louis Rams, Fairley’s other NFL team.
“[That’s] something that a lot of the athletes that we see during the physicals have, but the one examination [this year] saw further concern,” Payton said. “And that’s why he hasn’t been doing anything right now until we get a better feel for where he’s at.”
Fairley was with the Lions for his first four NFL seasons. He spent 2015 with the Rams and joined the Saints prior to last season, earning a four-year, $28 million contract extension this March. Shortly afterward, Fairley took a physical with Saints team doctors suggested he visit with a cardiologist, where his current condition was discovered. Fairley had passed every team physical prior to the exam in March.
“The most important thing in our mind is his well-being,” Payton said.
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