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Raiders TE Nick O’Leary Recovering from Heart Attack, Will Miss 2020 Season

Scott Gulbransen
nick o'leary Las Vegas raiders tight end heart attack
Nick O’Leary of the Las Vegas Raiders. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

When the Las Vegas Raiders moved recently signed tight end Nick O’Leary to the reserve/non-football injury list on Monday, many thought the player was retiring. Instead, he’s recovering from a near 100% blockage in one of his arteries to his heart.

Surgery to clear the blockage was performed last month and the 27-year-old former Florida State star told USA Today he expects to play in 2020.

“I feel good,” O’Leary told the news outlet Monday. “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.”

Nick O'Leary Las Vegas raiders heart attack
O’Leary was expected to compete for a position amongst the crowded Raiders tight end room.

Nick O’Leary was signed by the Raiders this offseason after playing the last year-plus with the Miami Dolphins. The five-year pro, who is the grandson of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus, discovered the heart problem after symptoms led him to the doctor. He told USA Today he felt pain through his arm and chest during a workout with his brother and just felt something wasn’t right.

“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.”

After surgery to insert to stents in the blocked passageway, O’Leary resumed physical activity but football is out of the question due to the prescribed 6-month regiment of blood thinners he must take.

Despite the setback, Nick O’Leary told USA Today he hopes the Raiders will give him a shot to get back on the field next year.

 two stents placed into the blocked passageway. He is able to play golf, ride a bike and work out lightly and will work his way up to more strenuous exercising before he starts running routes again and preparing to play football.

“If they still give me the opportunity to play next year, I’d love to,” he said.

The Raiders are extremely deep at the tight end position and it remains unclear if they will sign another to replace Nick O’Leary heading into training camp in Henderson next month.