Ryan Shazier, the Steelers’ linebacker who suffered a scary spinal injury in the game Monday night, has been transported to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center from the Cincinnati hospital where he had been treated. He will continue to receive treatment in Pittsburgh.
No update as to his condition was issued by the team or Shazier’s doctors, but ESPN’s Michael Steele noted that it was a “good sign he’s stabilized enough to be transported.”
On Tuesday afternoon, David Okonkwo of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Joseph Cheng of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, who have been treating Shazier, said in a joint statement that the Steelers linebacker “will continue to be monitored and treated by the neurosurgery experts at UC Medical Center until he has been cleared to return to Pittsburgh.” That seems to be the case Wednesday.
Shazier was injured in the first quarter of a brutal game when he lowered his head on a hit to Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone. Shazier immediately clutched at his back and rolled over before being immobilized by the medical staff and taken to UC Medical Center. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Shazier had some movement in his lower extremities, with the ensuing 24-48 hours being “key for increased improvement.” He was not expected to require surgery at this point and reports varied on the nature of his injury.
Initial reports indicated that he had suffered a spinal cord contusion, while later Tuesday two teammates told the Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette described it as a spinal cord concussion. Although no two injuries are alike, Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox suffered a similar injury in 2002, losing feeling in his arms and legs, but missed only one game.
Shazier made his first comment of sorts Tuesday evening in a tweet in which he expressed thanks for prayers and added “Your support is uplifting to me and my family. #SHALIEVE.”
Coach Mike Tomlin and Steelers officials visited Shazier in the hospital after the Steelers’ victory and Tomlin described him as being “in really good spirits” on Tuesday. “Tough guy. He’s got great support from family and loved ones there. It was painful to get on that plane [to fly back to Pittsburgh after the game], but that’s life. We understand he’s in really good hands and is getting expert medical care.”
The injury was sobering enough to make quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has considered whether to keep playing football because of the dangers of repeated blows to the head, reconsider the sport. Again.
“People get all over me for saying you have to contemplate every year on if you want to keep going,” Roethlisberger said (via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). “Plays like this make you really evaluate things. That’s why I say it’s a smart thing to do. It’s a violent game. And this [Bengals] game always seems to be that way. It’s crazy, this sport we play.”
During the offseason, Roethlisberger had hinted that he might retire, but reconsidered as training camp approached.
“When we talked in the offseason about evaluating and making sure, these are the reasons,” he said. “Having kids … I hope my son plays golf. If he wants to play football, that’s fine, too. But it’s a tough sport. It’s not for everyone. If he wants to do it, I’ll encourage it. If he doesn’t, I’m just fine with that as well.”
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