A tribute to retired Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier

Ryan Shazier of the Pittsburgh Steeler (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Ryan Shazier of the Pittsburgh Steeler (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Ryan Shazier recently retired from the NFL. Here’s why the former Steelers linebacker will leave his mark on Pittsburgh forever.

After a hard-fought path to recovery from a spinal cord injury, linebacker Ryan Shazier official retired from the Steelers. Though Shazier may no longer be on the roster, he will always be held to the utmost respect in the eyes of Pittsburgh.

Shazier was a rare breed of player: Incredibly instinctive and remarkable athleticism to go with an outstanding character off the field. Before the 2014 NFL Draft,  Shazier turned heads at the NFL Combine with a 42” vertical and 130” broad jump to go with a 6.91-second 3-cone drill. His Pro Day at Ohio State was even more impressive as he tested in the 99th percentile of NFL linebackers with a 4.38-second 40-yard dash.

But Shazier was far more than just an athlete. He was a football player in every sense of the word.

Shazier got off to a blazing start in his NFL career. He ended winning a starting job right out of training camp, and his leadership was evident to everyone on the team. However, the former first-round pick was always plagued with injuries. As a result, he played in just 9 games as a rookie, and never managed to play in more than 13 games in a season throughout his four-year career.

In his 3rd NFL season in 2016, Shazier’s career really took off. He was a nightmare for opposing offenses as he was continually around the ball. Shazier also proved to be a takeaway machine – intercepting the ball 3 times as well as forcing 3 fumbles and recovering one. He ultimately earned honors as a Pro Bowl alternate.

Shazier continued his dominance right into 2017. Over a six-game stretch, the dynamic linebacker earned 2 forced fumbles, 3 interception, and 9 pass defenses. Though he was awarded Pro Bowl honors in just 12 games, his season – and ultimately his career – was cut short with a severe spinal cord injury.

The news that Shazier might never be able to walk again was devastating to the football world. But Shazier had an unmatched determination and continued to keep a positive attitude throughout the excruciating process. In time, Shazier was able to walk on his own again. he was even able to dance with his wife on his wedding day – a moment that literally brought tears to my eyes.

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While Shazier never ended up making a comeback to the football field as he had in mind, he still remains a faithful member of the Steelers, and I’m sure that will continue even after his retirement. Shazier was a true hero of the game and he embodied everything it meant to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. Though his legacy will live on forever, he will be severely missed. I think I speak on behalf of all Steelers Nation when I say I wish him the best of luck in his retirement and his future.