If you need a reminder of the inherent danger on every play of every NFL game, look no further than the first quarter of Monday’s Steelers-Bengals game, when Pittsburgh linebacker Ryan Shazier was carted off with an apparently serious injury after a seemingly routine tackle.
The play on which Shazier was injured was in no way remarkable. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton completed a short pass over the middle to Josh Malone, who was met immediately by Shazier’s head-first dive. The linebacker made the tackle, the immediately crashed to the turf and grabbed his back. He appeared unable to move his legs as he was loaded onto a stretcher and removed from the field.
— Tim Dennis (@TDennisSportTog) December 5, 2017
— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) December 5, 2017
The Steelers quickly announced that Shazier had been taken to a hospital and was being evaluated for a back injury.
Shazier was the Steelers’ first-round pick in 2014 and made his first Pro Bowl last season. He currently leads the Steelers (and ranks ninth in the NFL) with 67 tackles.
Shazier’s tackling technique on that play was probably not optimal, but the bottom line is that every play in the NFL carries the possibility for devastating physical harm. It doesn’t take a massive “jacked-up” style hit to cause damage.
Hopefully Shazier’s injury isn’t nearly as serious as it appeared and the 25-year-old can make a full recovery.
UPDATE: Depending how much you trust amateur lip-readers, the injury does not sound good.
— Andy (@AndyMuka10) December 5, 2017
Update II: Shazier was hospitalized, but will not need surgery. The injury is reportedly ‘better than what it could have been.”
Ryan Shazier "better than what it could have been," per team source. Looking better
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) December 5, 2017