The NFL likes to promote the idea that football is family. And it is, but not because it’s a corporate slogan. When you work together with people, you build relationships with them. You get to know them, become friends, and begin to care for them. Those bonds transcend brand loyalty. If your friend starts playing for another team, you don’t start hating him. Players change teams all the time. Roster turnover leaguewide is probably around 40 percent, perhaps even more, especially for some teams.
Ryan Switzer didn’t spend a ton of time in Pittsburgh with the Steelers, but he certainly left an impression. Not just within the organization but within the community, thanks to his charitable spirit, as a frequent visitor at UPMC’s Children’s Hospital being among his favorite activities.
Switzer’s family has recently undergone an emotionally draining ordeal, as their young infant son battled COVID-19 and subsequently suffered bouts of internal bleeding that ultimately required surgery. And who do you think ultimately properly diagnosed his son’s condition, following initial failures? Terence Dermody, chief physician at the UPMC Children’s Hospital.
And how do you think he got to Boston, where his son’s surgery took place? Steelers minority owner Thomas Tull flew his family there on his private jet. Tull called Switzer “a good-hearted young man,” saying that he was “grateful it worked out for him and his family,” via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Originally drafted in the fourth round by the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, the Steelers acquired Switzer in August of 2018 via trade with the swapping of some mid-round draft picks. He would spend the next two seasons here, logging over 600 career snaps via offense and special teams as a return man. But he did not make the 53-man roster in 2020.
The Cleveland Browns eventually signed Switzer to their practice squad, where he remains today. He did not get into a game during the 2020 season, but is hoping to make the 53-man roster this year to join the likes of Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham, and Rashard Higgins.
Switzer was very open on social media during his son’s medical emergency. With the gauntlet of emotions that he was experiencing during those times, he asked for the support of his followers. In return, he has graced us with the positive updates of his son Christian’s recovery. Most recently of him, admittedly rather unenthusiastically, being pushed on a swing.
I’m so grateful to be this little dude’s dad. Words don’t do it justice. pic.twitter.com/NGFcSg71H7
— Ryan Switzer (@Switz) April 8, 2021
While his career with the Steelers didn’t ultimately develop into a relationship that the organization felt compelled to professionally sustain, it remains abundantly clear that he is very well-liked as an individual among those he touched through his time here.