Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier gave his first press conference today since getting carried off the field with a serious spinal injury in a December game against the Bengals. That injury left fans in the dark for over two months about whether Shazier was even able to walk, but Shazier, who continues to get around with a cane for the time being, used the press conference to reiterate his desire to play football again. Via NFL.com:
“My dream is to come back and play football again,” Shazier told reporters. “I’ve been working my tail off every single day, so I have that in the back of my mind every single time I go to rehab. I just try to stay positive every day, so I’m just trying to do everything I can to get back.”
There’s still a long way to go before Shazier could even practice with an NFL team, with the 2019 season the earliest possible return date. But the fact that Shazier—after suffering one of the scariest collisions in recent NFL history and almost getting paralyzed because of it—would want to come back to a brutal sport that dishes out serious injuries on a weekly basis is, frankly, mind-boggling.
This isn’t about money. The Steelers exercised an option on Shazier’s contract in April 2017 that guaranteed him $8.7 million, which means he’ll be a part of the team until his free agency in 2019. This appears to just be about Shazier’s unshakable, intense desire to play football, with no fear of the consequences. I guess that’s what it takes to be a high-level athlete, but man, I don’t think I’d be able to watch if he took the field again.