The Pittsburgh Steelers are having a bit of a midweek news dump today with defensive backs coach Carnell Lake resigning and President Art Rooney II first speaking to select reporters and then doing a broader interview. He has already touched on a number of topics today, and one of them was Ryan Shazier.
The Steelers’ starting inside linebacker was having a Pro Bowl season before he suffered a severe spinal injury in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half of the season, which caused him to love movement in his lower extremities. He has since been undergoing intensive rehab and is slowly beginning the process of walking again, having recently been discharged to out-patient care.
There is still plenty of uncertainty about the four-year veteran’s future, and, really, playing football right now should not be a part of the discussion, at the very least until we are much further along in the process. He is working through key milestones as we speak, and we do not know where the end of that road will be just yet.
But remaining a part of the Steelers organization is important both for the team and for Shazier himself. Both sides have spoken about how his connection with the team is a valuable element of his rehabilitation process, particularly from the mental and motivational aspect.
Earlier today, Rooney was asked about Shazier and offered his thoughts, saying, “I expect Ryan is going to be here one way or the other and have a roll on the team one way or other in 2018”, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via Twitter.
Art Rooney on Ryan Shazier’s future: “I expect Ryan is going to be here one way or the other and have a roll on the team one way or other in 2018”
— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) February 7, 2018
Subsequently during an interview via the team’s website, he called Shazier an “inspiration” and that he doesn’t see any limit regarding the extent to which he can return. Shazier’s father has expressed belief that he could play football again someday.
One thing is clear, and that is that his teammates have rallied around him. They have been with him every step of the way, including present and former teammates. And, frankly, the city has been behind him, too. Just last night, he appeared at a Pittsburgh Penguins game, during which he received a warm standing ovation–to which he responded by standing himself.
Whether or not he ever returns to the field as a player is a huge question mark, and we probably won’t get an answer to that any time soon, but it’s clear that Shazier is and will very much remain a big part of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.