Normally, when a player sustains a brutal, scary injury in a game, his team and the NFL media machine rush to get out word that he’ll be okay. Suspension of disbelief matters a great deal in a league as violent as the NFL, which means that it makes sense to remind fans that, however horrifying the injury looked, the person who suffered it had movement in his extremities, or is in good spirits at the hospital. It’s part of what football fans need to make peace with watching this game.
This has been what’s most worrying about the days since Pittsburgh’s Ryan Shazier was carted off the field with a back injury on Monday night. There hasn’t been any explicitly bad news, but the general silence about his condition as he continues to receive medical treatment has seemed concerning at best and ominous at worst. Here, for instance, is the most recent statement from Steelers PR, which is extremely vague and contains no update on his recovery beyond noting that he had undergone spinal stabilization surgery.
Ian Rapoport elaborated on the statement just a bit, noting the possibility that Shazier may never play football again.
Shazier’s family, meanwhile, have been very public with their concerns and have been asking for prayers on social media.
ESPN’s Michele Steele also talked with a neurologist who has not treated Shazier, and his perspective was not optimistic.
It’s most likely that Shazier’s condition is still up in the air, with a too-wide gap between possible outcomes to speculate responsibly, or even irresponsibly. But for now, until more information gets confirmed, no news sure does not feel like good news.