Steelers’ Shazier retiring ‘from the game I love’

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury while making a tackle in 2017 that initially left him unable to walk, announced his retirement on Wednesday.

“When I was 5 years old, I made the greatest discovery of my life,” Shazier said in a video posted to Twitter on Wednesday. “I discovered the game that I love — the game of football. Ever since then, I’ve given my life to the game. I love everything about it …

“I’m here today to make sure the world knows how much today I still love football. How grateful I am for everything that football gave me. And I’m here to let the world know that today, I am officially retiring from the game I love so much.”

Shazier was rushed to a University of Cincinnati hospital on Dec. 4, 2017, after a tackling attempt against the Cincinnati Bengals left him struggling to move. The two-time Pro Bowler underwent spinal stabilization surgery a few days after, and he didn’t regain movement in his legs until the following February.

Where paralysis once was a concern in the days after the injury, Shazier re-taught himself to walk, drive a car, jog and lift weights. He walked his bride down the aisle during their 2019 wedding.

He hasn’t been around the team during training camp this year because of COVID-19 protocols concerning the number of personnel with access to the team, but he continues to focus on his daily rehab and he’s taking one final online class to complete his undergraduate degree in psychology from Ohio State.

Shazier isn’t sure whether his next steps include returning to the football field as a coach.

“It’s kind of tough not being able to be around the team as much, just help the young guys or be around the guys that I worked around before,” Shazier, who turns 28 on Sunday, said last week. “It’s really tough. I’m constantly putting one foot in front of the other, trying to learn different things, trying to figure out my next step, trying to take it one day at a time.”

Shazier, who was drafted in 2014, did not play in 2019, and his contract tolled at a minimum salary, giving him one more year toward NFL pension. The team kept him on the roster with the physically unable to perform designation.

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