October 03, 2019

Football is one of America’s favorite pastimes. Fans cheer when their team gets a touchdown, makes an interference, or gets a sack. When players stand over one another after a tackle and assert their dominance, the crowd goes wild. Ryan Shazier was a part of this culture for four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, until his life changed forever. An injury on the field altered his future for an unforeseeable time. Now, Shazier is on the road to recovery but has a different outlook on life.

Before entering the NFL, Shazier played football at Ohio State. He played in every regular-season game and had an impressive record. Shazier was voted a first-team All-American by the Associated Press, USA Today, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated. He announced that he would forgo his senior season in order to enter the 2014 NFL draft. Shazier was ranked third best outside linebacker prospect when the draft began. He caught the Steelers’ eye and was drafted 15th overall.

Shazier finished his rookie season with 36 tackles, 24 solo tackles, and a pass deflection. Over the next two seasons, his statistics (and injuries) racked up. It all came to a halt when Shazier was injured during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He sustained a severe back injury after a head-on tackle and was unable to move his legs. Shazier left the game and was taken to the hospital immediately. A few days later, he underwent spinal surgery, which ended his season.

The doctors told Shazier that he might never walk again. He surpassed that hurdle however, after extension physical therapy. Shazier walked across the stage at the 2018 NFL draft, less than a year after his injury. He began working out regularly and decided that he wanted to pursue a return to the field. His journey still continues to this day, but Shazier is determined to make it back. Even the typically small moments, like dancing at his wedding, are monumental.

The Steelers and the city of Pittsburgh have stuck with Shazier the entire time. His story and involvement in the community have become an inspiration to many people across that country. Even though he isn’t on the field, his leadership, insight, and support have been extremely valuable to the team. Shazier has also been working closely with Devin Bush as a mentor. No one could have imagined the progress and impact Shazier has made, and everyone continues to support his efforts to return to play.