There aren’t many professions quite like sports in which you can be so publicly reviled simply for struggling to do your job, something I imagine that just about everybody can relate to. And while you’re down on yourself for your own performance, you have thousands of people who like your company basically telling you that you’re ruining the company and that you need to be fired.
That’s basically been Ryan Switzer’s experience since the start of last season after really struggling with the Pittsburgh Steelers in his second year with the club, third in the NFL. Now heading into 2020, after spending the back half of the year on the reserve/injured list with a back injury, he’s looking for a rebound, and he turned to his physical conditioning to give himself an edge.
You’ve seen the photos by now of how he has bulked up, almost looking like a Mini Me of Vance McDonald. After practice on Wednesday, he was asked by reporters to go into what he did in order to achieve that transformation, and what motivated him to do it:
Not that I hadn’t always focused on nutrition, but I really intently focused on what I was putting into my body, what time I was putting certain foods into my body. Like Coach Tomlin always says, he really harped on it this year especially because of the lack of the offseason, physical conditioning precedes anything that we do. I’m not going to go into my full training detail, but I feel as prepared as ever. I’m 25 years old, I’m in the best shape of my life. And now it’s up to me to put it to use. Because all that training can go by the wayside if you don’t go out there and perform. But I feel like I’m in a good spot between my physical conditioning my experience, my growth as a receiver to kind of mesh those two together and really put together a good year for myself.
A year after averaging 3.4 yards per reception and 3.6 yards per punt return, Switzer knows his back is up against the wall. Even though it doesn’t appear as though he is at much of a risk of losing out on a roster spot this season, he knows that he has a lot to prove in order to return to the good graces of at least the fan base, if not the coaching staff.
He told reporters that he’s not focused on proving people wrong. Instead, his mind is set on proving the people right who have believed in him and have been in his corner, and yes, that bandwagon is led by Ben Roethlisberger, who has basically adopted him—only, unlike his other sons, he appears to be done growing.