Oher spent the last nine months going through concussion protocol, and had yet to be cleared to return to team activities. He tweeted about how fragile the brain is after his release, and followed it up with an Instagram post.
The Brain is a scary thing. You have to be careful with it.— Michael Oher (@MichaelOher) July 20, 2017
Ron Rivera spoke on Oher after his release, and expressed a similar concern for the health of his now former player.
Ron Rivera had a chance to speak to Oher: "The most important thing is his health," Rivera said. "Our only concern is him getting healthy."— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) July 20, 2017
This has been a tough offseason for the eight-year veteran. He was arrested for allegedly assaulting an Uber driver back in April, and in early June posted — and then quickly deleted — a picture on Instagram showing 10 pill bottles, with the caption, “All for the brain smh.”
Oher received a visit to his Tennessee home from then-GM Dave Gettleman, even before the April incident, and football wasn’t at the forefront of the conversation.
"We talked about a lot of things – nothing about football. It was about him, how he was doing and the issues he was dealing with," Gettleman said, according to the team site. "It started and ended well. And after we met, Michael did follow up for a few days. However, the communication has stopped.”
He may not have spoken to Gettleman since, but Oher hasn’t stayed quiet on social media. Many of his recent posts include quotes about healing and some cryptic messages about a state of mind or being unable to remember things. He also took to Instagram to defend and support Gettleman following the news that the Panthers had let him go after just four seasons.
Michael Oher became a household name back in 2009 when Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw helped recreate some version of his life story in The Blind Side, but his success with the Baltimore Ravens early in his career wasn’t even a storyline yet.
The OT was picked by the Ravens 23rd overall in the 2009 NFL draft out of Ole Miss. He went on to compete in every single game for the first five years of his career. While in Baltimore, Oher never missed a game due to injury, and walked away with a Super Bowl ring for the 2012 season.
It wasn’t until he signed with the Titans in 2014 that things started to change. Oher initially signed a four-year contract with the team, worth $20 million. Oher had his first incomplete season in Tennessee, only suiting up for 11 games that year. He finished the year on IR thanks to a lingering toe injury.
After a short stint with the Titans — who released him in early 2016 — Oher made his way to the Carolina Panthers. There, he once again played a full 16-game season in 2015, and earned a new three-year, $21.6 million deal because of it. The Panthers protected their investment, with a potential out in 2018 that would turn his latest deal into a two-year contract worth $12.25 million.
That option seemed more and more likely after a 2016 season that resulted in only three starts for Oher before eventually being placed on IR. The left tackle developed concussion-like symptoms ahead of the Panthers’ Week 4 contest against Atlanta. He never returned to the practice field, and after his return timetable wasn’t predictable, the team decided they needed to fill his roster spot.