Simply walking again isn’t good enough for Ryan Shazier. In his first public comments since suffering a spinal injury during a game against the Bengals on Dec. 4, the Steelers linebacker says he plans on not only playing again but also becoming one of the best to ever play the position.
“I gotta get back, bro,” Shazier said on teammate Roosevelt Nix’s podcast, which was released Tuesday night. “Right now I’m reading a book and it’s basically saying trust the process, bro. I’m really trusting the process. I know the end goal. So I’m taking every step of the way. . . . I’m giving everything I got. The therapists, they be like, ‘Man, this is crazy. . . . I’ve never seen anyone work this hard.’ They almost see progression like almost every day.
“They say like some progressions they see week-to-week, they almost see from me day-to-day. . . . I’m really trying to come back and still be a Pro Bowler. I’m sorry, because I feel I got snubbed this year for all-pro even though I got hurt. But I feel like my stats are still as good as those who made it.”
Shazier has made a number of public appearances since he underwent spinal stabilization surgery Dec. 6, one at a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game. Earlier this month, Shazier posted a photo on Instagram that showed him standing with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as he left University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (he has been cleared for outpatient care). Shazier said he was doing the heavy lifting here, so to speak.
“I really wanted to do that because I felt everybody needed to see that,’’ Shazier told Nix.
“At the end of the day, everybody saw the picture of me and Ben. I stood up. The thing is, in the picture, people were saying Ben supported me, too. He was barely even holding me. I was like, I want to stand up so people can really see Ben ain’t just holding me up. This isn’t rigged.”
Where exactly Shazier stands in his recovery isn’t quite clear. In January, his father said he had regained feeling in his legs. According to ESPN, the linebacker has used a wheelchair since the injury.
“I gained so much more appreciation for people with disabilities and in wheelchairs,” he said. “You can be going up one incline, that’s so much harder.”
The injury certainly hasn’t seemed to knock down any of his self-confidence.
“I’m still reaching for that Hall of Fame because I feel like I’m the best linebacker.”
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