The Las Vegas Raiders have invested a lot into tight ends and it was somewhat surprising when 2020 free-agent signee Nick O’Leary was placed on the Reserve/NFI list in May. The team didn’t shed light on what exactly happened with him, but it could’ve been assumed he just decided to retire. However, the tight end recently revealed to Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post that he had a blockage of an artery that required him to get heart surgery.
“I said sarcastically to my brother there’s something wrong with my heart, I don’t know what it is,” O’Leary said. “I happened to go to the hospital, and they told me it was a heart attack.”
At only 27 years old, it had to be surprising for O’Leary to get the news.
O’Leary Says He Feels Better
Fortunately, after going through surgery, O’Leary is feeling better. However, he made it clear that he will not be playing this season.
“I feel good,” O’Leary said, per D’Angelo. “I feel better than I did before. I’ve got to be on blood thinners for six months to a year. That’s really the only reason now why I can’t play football. If I [got cut], they said that would be the biggest problem…wouldn’t be able to stop the bleeding.”
The former John Mackey Award winner would’ve been a part of a loaded Raiders tight end group that features future Hall of Famer Jason Witten, potential superstar Darren Waller and promising young player Foster Moreau. It wasn’t a given he would’ve even made the team after training camp. Though he suffered a scary moment in his life, that’s not going to stop him from trying to play.
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O’Leary Wants to Return in 2021
O’Leary’s 2020 season is lost, but he’s already got his eyes set on 2021. He even went so far to say that he’d be happy to go back to the Raiders. He was only on a one-year deal so nothing is tying him to the team.
“If they still give me the opportunity to play next year, I’d love to,” O’Leary said, per D’Angelo.
The tight end believed that he was in good physical condition so the news that he was having heart issues surprised him.
“I got all these friends, I’m in better shape than they’re in, I’m working out, I feel like I’m in good shape,” he said. “For it to happen to me, I was in shock. I didn’t think that’s what it would be. For that to happen and me ending up being in the hospital for three days and having a heart issue is pretty weird.”
It’s fortunate that he was able to catch the issue when he did. With Raiders facilities closed due to COVID-19, it could’ve been a while before team doctors examined him. It remains to be seen if the Raiders will still be looking for a tight end next offseason, but they’ll probably at least give O’Leary a look.