Ryan Shazier has been voted the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2018 winner of the Ed Block Courage Award, an award given to the player who has overcome the most obstacles in their life over the past year.
Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley has a wonderful write up of Shazier’s selection, an obvious one, given his remarkable recovery after being paralyzed a little less than a year ago after making a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“It really means a lot just to know guys understand I have been going through a lot and I continue to push through it,” Shazier said, via Varley and the team site.
This past Sunday marked the first time Shazier returned to Cincinnati. He visited the hospital who first treated him after his injury and walked out of the tunnel before kickoff.
Ryan Shazier comes out of tunnel and signs autographs for Steelers fans pic.twitter.com/p1U8XTpsH3
— Rich Walsh KDKA (@RichieWalsh) October 14, 2018
After the game, Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger were understandably emotional reflecting on what having him out there meant.
“We just love and respect Ryan. We’ve learned a lot from his struggle since the last time we’ve been here. He’s inspired us,” Tomlin said.
Roethlisberger echoed a similar feeling.
“Just the fact that he’s able to walk and we can see him walk off that field and walk off with him, it was special”.
Varley talked to several of Shazier’s teammates, who see him as a source of inspiration and frankly, are in awe of how well and how quickly he’s recovered.
“That is the type of person Ryan is. He has always been like that. I don’t think anything would break that type of spirit that he has,” Vince Williams said.
Although the entire team and fanbase were shook and saddened by Shazier’s injury, Williams may have taken it the hardest. Those two have a well-documented close friendship, dubbing themselves “Shake n Bake” and Williams could be seen crying on the sidelines as Shazier was stretchered off the field. Since then, he has worn Shazier’s #50 backplate each week and during training camp.
Shazier has had an outstanding supporting cast while rehabbing. From his teammates, coaches, to his family and of course, Steelers’ Nation. Shazier made special mention of the fans for their unwavering support.
“Pittsburgh had my back from the moment I got drafted. They might get mad that I drop a pick now and then, but they had my back from the moment I got drafted. Just to know I went back out there. Just to see how happy everyone seemed. How loud the stadium got. To see how many people supported me, it made me realize everybody has my back.”
In Pittsburgh, Artie Burns won the award in 2017, Maurkice Pouncey in 2016, and William Gay in 2015.