Chris Orr’s season ended as soon as it began, when he suffered an injury during the first play of Wisconsin’s season opener against LSU.
Orr has still been a big part of the Badgers’ run to the Big Ten Championship Game, picking up a headset as an assistant coach. On Friday, The Players’ Tribune released an emotional piece written by Orr about his 2016 season.
His message is a powerful one, delivered before Wisconsin plays its biggest game of the season. In it, he talks about the challenges of being sidelined and the pride he’s felt watching the Badgers silence their doubters.
People will sleep on Wisconsin sometimes. Maybe it’s because we don’t play up our individual talent here the way other schools sometimes do. Even on our own team, there are no divisions. We all have each other’s phone numbers. We hang out together. In every way we’re a team, with each player understanding his role and performing it to the very best of his ability.
So even though I guess it’s fair to say we’ve surprised a lot of people in the nation with our play this season, we haven’t surprised each other. We always knew this team was going to be something special.
Along the way, fellow linebacker Jack Cichy joined Orr on the coaching staff with a torn pectoral muscle. He said the pair have gained a unique perspective watching from the sideline, and “if there was even one play where I helped a guy get in better position, it was all worth it.”
On the flip side of that, Orr wrote that his teammates have picked him up when he’s needed it during the recovery process.
Saturday’s game will be an emotional one as Wisconsin tries to erase the memory of its embarrassing 2014 loss on the same stage. Orr’s letter just adds an extra layer of emotion.
This year Jack and I have joked about my trading him a pec for one of his ACL’s. You know we’d do anything to be out there with you guys. But if I had to tear up my knee again for us to achieve what we have this year, I’d do it in a second.
When the stakes are this high, every little bit helps.