Despite playing only four seasons, linebacker Ryan Shazier is a Pittsburgh Steelers legend. Improving year after year, Shazier was a blossoming superstar in 2017. However, tragedy struck when in December of that year he suffered a spinal cord injury while trying to make a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Shaizer tried to come back from he injury, rehabbing for couple of years and still being listed on the Steelers roster. However, his dream of returning never came to fruition. Shazier regained the ability to walk and feel and is living a great life but could not get back to his standard of football.
He said that is a big reason why he never returned.
Shazier joined former Steelers quarterback and teammate Ben Roethlisberger today on the Footbahlin’ podcast and Roethlisberger asked him when it hit him that he would never play football again.
“The day that I actually retired is when it actually hit me,” Shazier said. “I was thinking about it before, and I kept trying, and I was getting to the point where I was very close but it was just certain movement I couldn’t do. And I could see even if I got close to where I was at, I was not going to be able to reach back to where I was at. Just the explosiveness, just the movement, like the knowledge of the game. It was to a point if I was going to play football again I can’t imagine myself going out there and putting out a product that I can’t see myself being.”
Shazier’s story is so inspirational and no one will ever be able to take that away from him. He is a Steelers legend in part because of his recovery and how he inspired many to fight through hard times.
The Steelers have yet to be able to fill the void Shazier left. He was the perfect inside linebacker for the Steelers’ defense as he had the athleticism to cover well, could shed blocks and stuff the run, and made a ton of splash plays. One of his biggest plays came in the 2015 AFC Wild Card Game against the Bengals when he stripped running back Jeremy Hill of the ball and helped turn a loss into a win.
As Shazier told Roethlisberger, he didn’t think he could be the same player as before his injury if he returned so he called it quits. It is hard to blame him for that as a top athlete and competitive person. If you can’t return to the form you were pre-injury and you can do nothing to change it, it makes sense to hang up the cleats. I’m sure that would have frustrated him to no end not being able to play his best due to injury.
Either way, Shazier is an inspiration for many in his recovery. Not everyone who suffers an injury like Shazier’s can regain the ability to walk and live a normal life again but Shazier was able to do so. He will always be beloved in Pittsburgh and by Steelers fans across the globe.