Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier continues to battle back from the serious spinal injury he suffered late during the 2017 regular season and the former first-round draft pick out of Ohio State has since overcome a lot of obstacles in the process of his rehabilitation. On Monday, Shazier was rewarded for his efforts to overcome adversity to date as he has been voted the 2019 George Halas Award winner by the Pro Football Writers Association.
The PFWA’s George Halas Award is given annually to a NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. The award is named for Halas, a charter member (1963) of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, who was associated with the Chicago Bears and NFL from their inception in 1920 until his death in 1983 as an owner, manager, player and promoter.
A few weeks ago it was announced by the PFWA that Shazier was one of five finalists for this year’s George Halas Award. Steelers running back James Conner, who battled and beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma while he was still in college at Pittsburgh, was also a 2019 finalists.
PFWA’s summary of why Shazier was voted one of this year’s George Halas award finalists is below:
“A head-first tackle in 2017 left Shazier paralyzed from the waist down. He had spinal surgery, but he refused to give up on playing. He sat out the 2018 season, but remained with the team, helping in scouting and coaching. He has been able to run, lift significant weights and even dance at his wedding.”
Shazier’s wedding took place in early May and the Steelers linebacker made national sports headlines when video of him dancing at the reception afterwards surfaced on social media.
In late April, Shazier was placed on the Steelers Reserve/PUP list for a second-consecutive season with expectations being he’ll not play at all again this year. In the meantime, however, Shazier continues to serve the Steelers as a quasi-coach and a mentor to younger players on the roster.
Shazier is now the third Steelers player to win PFWA’s George Halas Award as wide receiver John Stallworth and running back Rocky Bleier also won the award in 1985 and 1975 respectively.