Ryan Shazier has been making progress since he underwent spinal surgery for an injury he suffered earlier this month, but it is clear the Steelers linebacker has a long way to go before he can think about possibly returning to the football field.
Shazier’s father, Vernon, spoke with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler this week, and he said the Shazier family has been encouraged by Ryan’s recovery but is trying not to look too far ahead.
“We have seen some improvement that is encouraging,” Vernon said. “We’re taking it one day at a time. We do not know what tomorrow holds. It’s a [daily] journey we don’t know. But I know God is getting the message.
“We’re praying for healing and keeping our mind and faith strong. We know we’re in a deep valley, but we do not feel alone. … It’s easy to be faithful in a storm, but we’re not talking about a drizzle. We’re talking about a hurricane, a category 5 [hurricane], lots of metaphors to describe it.”
Vernon Shazier is an NFL chaplain, and it is clear that religion is a very important part of his family’s life. He declined to get into specifics about Ryan’s injury, but he said the prayers and well-wishes from across the country have not gone unnoticed.
“You’ve got little kids that are praying for him. He has over a million people praying for him,” Vernon said. “It’s coming from so many different sources. … I got an email from a kid who has a medical issue, where Ryan has touched his heart. You have kids wishing Ryan gets better for Christmas. It’s keeping us up.”
Shazier was announced this week as one of eight Pro Bowl players for the Steelers. Vernon said that was one of his son’s goals for the 2017 season, and he is still hoping his team accomplishes the other, which is winning a Super Bowl.
It was a great sign to see Shazier all smiles at Pittsburgh’s game last weekend. He’s just 25, so time is on his side. But with an injury as serious as the one he suffered, football isn’t at the forefront of Shazier’s mind. Here’s hoping he can make a full recovery.