This past December, in the Steelers’ week 13 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, middle linebacker Ryan Shazier endured a devastating spinal injury, challenging his walking ability and muscle functionality.
Shazier was drafted by the Steelers in 2014, and has been a major part of the black and gold defense ever since. His 2017 season would be cut short after making what appeared to be a routine tackle during the Bengals first possession. When Shazier absorbed the hit, it only took seconds for the average viewer to realize that something went terribly wrong.
Shazier underwent spinal surgery just days after the injury occurred, and is currently grinding his way through the rehabilitation process. Players and fans throughout the entire NFL community were shaken up when the scary hit on Shazier took place, but quick to keep him in their prayers.
The Cleveland Browns honored Shazier during a touchdown celebration, along with other teammates and players around the league paying their respect as well:
The support Shazier has received from teammates, other players, and fans doesn’t go unnoticed. He regularly responds to the people who are displaying their support and belief in his recovery. A popular hashtag coined #Shalieve has been surfacing Twitter and Instagram, while also making its way onto t-shirts that many individuals have been purchasing to continue their support.
Just this week, Shazier was featured on teammate Roosevelt Nix’s podcast, in which he delivered some inspirational words regarding his road to recovery, which aims to get him back onto the field and better than ever.
The injury is only a minor setback in his eyes, and his ambitions and goals have not changed in any way. His dreams of becoming an NFL Hall of Famer are very much alive, and he even coined himself as the best linebacker to ever live:
“I really feel I’m the best linebacker ever,” Shazier said. “I just have to be back out there so everybody can see it. You know what I’m saying?” he told Nix during the 28 minute podcast.
Shazier not only faces his personal challenges of returning to the field, but the expectation to meet a strict contract policy with the Steelers. He is in the fifth year option of his contract, and the uncertainty of his health and ability to return to the field poses a salary cap challenge for his team.
That said, money aside, it is evident that Shazier’s primary focus is to rehabilitate the best he can, return to the field, and continue on his quest to acquire the accolades of a top-tier linebacker.