When Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin went on Ben Roethlisberger’s Footbahlin podcast, he called Ryan Shazier’s injury “the darkest professional day” that he ever had.
On Tuesday’s episode of Footbahlin’, Shazier was the guest and he discussed how close he was with Tomlin when he played for the Steelers.
“My relationship with Coach Tomlin before I got hurt was probably significantly closer than everybody else on the team other than Ben,” Shazier said. “We would watch film together, when people weren’t there we’d watch film together. They would put in the install, and he would say, ‘This is the install, this is what we plan on doing,’ but I already knew if something bad happened in the game what he would want to go to. Like, when everybody else was still trying to figure it out, so if something happened to us in the first quarter, he’d be like, ‘Ryan, I know this is going to be a second-half adjustment, we got to do it now. We just talked a lot and we built a relationship.”
Roethlisberger called Shazier, who wore the green dot as the defensive play-caller, was the “quarterback of the defense,” so his close relationship with Tomlin would make sense. It seems a lot of their relationship comes from both of them just being football junkies and watching tape together. There was obviously a level of mutual respect between player and coach, and Shazier’s football knowledge surely impressed Tomlin, especially given the level of responsibility Tomlin placed on Shazier.
When Tomlin went on Roethlisberger’s podcast, he said that the way Shazier could clearly articulate made him feel better that his issue would be temporary. For his part, Shazier said he was in denial about the severity of his injury, something he also said on his Don’t Call It A Comeback podcast back in December.
“I didn’t think my injury was as bad as it was, so that’s what I mean when I was in denial,” he said. He added that he thought he was one of the best at his position, and “the best players in the world don’t get hurt that bad.”
Shazier said he initially believed he had a stinger. Given his clarity in articulating his injury to Tomlin and his own belief that his injury wasn’t severe, it’s easy to see how Tomlin’s mind could be put at ease a little bit that the injury wasn’t as bad as it appeared. Obviously, it unfortunately was, and it ended Shazier’s career.
Although his playing days are over, Shazier is still staying around the game. He wrote a book, and he recently attended the NFL’s Broadcasting Bootcamp. It’s great to see Shazier staying around the game he loves. Obviously, the comeback he’s made from his injury — he was only given a 20% chance to walk again — has been amazing. Hopefully, his post-playing career continues to trend in a positive direction.