By Nick Shook
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Ryan Shazier‘s road back from a serious spinal injury has included plenty of rehab and occasional visits to the Steelers, including appearances at the team’s facility and late-season games.
The linebacker’s latest stop on his journey was a sit-down with teammate Roosevelt Nix, who recently received a new contract and started a podcast. Nix brought in Shazier for his third episode, and in the middle of discussing playing college ball in Ohio, their video game skills, first years in the NFL and career goals, his teammate dropped a big declaration.
“I’ve gotta get back, bro,” Shazier told Nix of his desire to return to an NFL field. “Every day, bro. Every day I’m like — right now, I’m reading a book and it’s basically saying trust the process, bro. I’m really trusting the process and I know the end goal. I’m taking it every step of the way but I’m like, I’m giving it like my football effort, like 1,000, everything I’ve got.
“The therapists, they’ll be like, ‘man, this is crazy. I’m happy to be working with an athlete because I’ve never seen somebody work this hard.’ They see progression almost every day. They say some progression they see week to week, they see from me day to day. I’ve got to get it. I’m really trying to come back and still be a Pro Bowler, still be an All-Pro.”
Shazier goes on to talk about how he felt as though despite his injury, his statistics — which he admits earlier in the podcast he’s nearly obsessed with racking up — were good enough for All-Pro honors.
“I’m still reaching for that Hall of Famer,” Shazier said. “I really feel like I’m the best linebacker ever. I’ve just got to get back out there so everybody can see it.”
Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery after suffering a scary, season-ending spinal injury in December, and was discharged from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Institute on Feb. 1. He’s since transitioned into an outpatient therapy program as part of what is expected to be a long rehab process.
We live in an age of modern medicine that has advanced tremendously even in the last decade, but spinal injuries are more serious than a knee injury, and we have less history to be able to project whether someone can return.
Shazier’s future is still very unknown, but it’s encouraging to know the linebacker is giving as much effort as possible to get better.