I’ve never broken any bones in my body. I’ve only been in a hospital a handful of times, but always managed to leave after a few hours. For the most part, outside of carrying a few extra pounds, I’ve been very healthy in 48 years of life on the third rock from the sun.
When it comes to injuries in sports, you never know how someone’s body will react to physical therapy in terms of the recovery process. Athletes bodies are far different from us normal humans, or so it seems. They do have access to the best doctors and treatments available today, no doubt.
As news filtered out from Indianapolis regarding the status of Ryan Shazier for 2018, it came as no surprise to me that GM Kevin Colbert gave the media an update regarding there being zero chance of him playing. Anyone who was even hoping there was some slight chance of his return should have their head examined.
The term ‘spinal stabilization surgery’ and ‘return to football’ just don’t go together.
In any capacity.
Athletes returning from major injuries is nothing new. The desire to compete. The will to win can’t be replicated, taught or learned. It comes from within. Shazier wants to play competitive football again. That’s natural. It’s healthy.
But it’s not the priority. Not even close.
And I think the Steelers know that. I think Shazier knows it also, but the competitor in him says otherwise, and for a variety of reasons. I get that and understand the psychological battle he’s facing each day as he pushes to get back to normal.
And that’s just it. That’s the real goal here. To see that Ryan Shazier can live a normal life. That he can walk like he did prior to this horrific injury suffered playing the game he loves. That his time spent from this point on can be as casual, balanced and fruitful as the people around him.
This has nothing to do with killing hope or being negative. Perhaps Shazier can do the impossible. Maybe the marvels of modern science and technology, the advances in physical therapy or even the sheer power of the human mind can will this man to getting back into uniform and in playing shape.
Sidney Crosby returned from several severe concussions and has won two Stanley Cups. Rod Woodson tore his ACL in the 1995 season opener and returned to play in the Super Bowl against Dallas at the end of that same year. Both benefited from the best care and medicine at the time of their setbacks.
But knees and heads, and the roadblocks detailed above, are a far cry from the one Shazier faces. We are talking about a human spine. I can’t imagine it being harder to return from any injury to any part of the body than this one. Every story I’ve researched since his injury doesn’t point to anything other than the possibility of normal existence.
The last time I checked, normal existence doesn’t include making a living playing football in the NFL.
And that’s ok. Because walking trumps that. By about a billion percent.
Matters of this nature are sensitive and it’s easy to upset people in this world of political correctness and knee jerk reactionary, s well as the social media mob mentality we are jammed up with on the daily. It’s one of the reasons I’m no longer on Twitter. My time, as is yours, is better spent elsewhere than on social media platforms. I’m half tempted to even ditch Facebook.
Let’s not get too crazy now.
The reality is this. Any idea or holding of hope to see Ryan Shazier play again in the NFL is foolish. And wrong. The true thoughts of anyone with a care about his situation should be on one thing and one thing only.
Him being able to walk again.
Shazier has every right to want to play again. But even he, his doctors and the Steelers know that living a healthy life is the real goal.
When he’s not hunting down jedi scum across the Mon Wharf Parking Lot, you can find John Phillips writing opinion articles for BTSC. A duty he’s secretly enjoyed since 2014.