Ryan Shazier, linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been in the hospital since suffering a scary injury while making a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13. He needed spinal surgery after going head down into a tackle. Pittsburgh was able to clinch the AFC North title with a thrilling 39-38 comeback victory over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14, and Shazier was watching from the hospital.
They dedicated the win to him and even Facetimed him from the locker room celebration.
Shazier seems to be in good spirits, and part of that should be attributed to the show of support he has received from players, coaches, and fans around the league. His teammates, in a display of solidarity, wore some specially designed cleats against the Ravens to show how much they are thinking of him.
— B/R Kicks (@brkicks) December 9, 2017
Shazier is out for the season and, according to Neurologist Dr. Anthony Alessi, “may not play football again,” per ESPN’s Michele Steele.
Star wide receiver Antonio Brown shared the video through Bleacher Report above. He also posted his own messages on Twitter during the week.
— AB (@AB84) December 5, 2017
— AB (@AB84) December 7, 2017
The Steelers also had t-shirts made to show their support with the #SHALIEVE message. Per Bleacher Report:
A Pittsburgh clothing company worked with Shonda Moats, the wife of Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats, to design T-shirts with the same rallying cry. The proceeds will go to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation and Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
The cleats were designed by Corey Pane, who reached out to Bud Dupree after the injury. From ESPN.com:
Corey Pane, a Hartford, Connecticut-based artist who paints cleats, reached out to Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree shortly after Shazier suffered the injury, and has painted cleats for several Pittsburgh players. Antonio Brown, Stephon Tuitt, Cam Heyward, T.J. Watt and Dupree said they plan to honor Shazier with cleats that bear his name or likeness.
“I just wanted to do something for Shazier to show him some support and send some good energy his way,” Pane said this weekend.
After the victory, the Steelers presented Shazier with a game ball. You could tell this was a game the Steelers were refusing to lose. Heading into the fourth quarter with a 31-20 deficit, Pittsburgh rallied to scored 19 points and capped the win off with a 46-yard field goal by Chris Boswell with 42 seconds remaining.
They were helped in large part by a massive game from Big Ben Roehlisberger, who became the first quarterback in NFL history to have three games with at least 500 yards passing, breaking a tie he shared with Drew Brees. Big Ben was 44-for-66 with 506 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Roethlisberger admits a visit to Shazier in the hospital helped motivate the team to win the game for him.
“When you walk in and see him and see the smile and give him a hug, it’s really made all of us feel, just to kind of take that weight off and breathe a little easier.”
Brown echoed everyone’s sentiments that they were trying to win this game for Shazier.
“We knew in spirit, he was all there with us. And for us to get it done and the way we got it done today and being able to Facetime him, to see the joy from him. It’s special,” Brown after the game. “We don’t take it for granted. He’s our brother. I know he wasn’t out there with us, but he was there in spirit. And I know he was our biggest supporter, watching us fight together today.”
The Steelers are AFC North champions and will look to lock up home field advantage with a huge game against the New England Patriots in Week 15. Shazier will no doubt be tuning in and will likely see more displays of unity from his teammates.