At this point, the discussion around Ryan Shazier's recovery from a tragic spinal injury has been less about his ability to play football again and more about his ability to live a normal and healthy life again. On Wednesday, though, at his first press conference since the Steelers linebacker clarified what he hopes to achieve by the end of his recovery process.
According to Shazier, he's still trying to play football again.
"My dream is to come back and play football again," Shazier said, via NFL.com. "I've been working my tail off every single day, so I have that in the back of my mind every single time I go to rehab. I just try to stay positive every day, so I'm just trying to do everything I can to get back."
"I've gotta get back, bro," Shazier said on Roosevelt Nix's podcast in February. "Every day, bro. Every day I'm like -- right now, I'm reading a book and it's basically saying trust the process, bro. I'm really trusting the process and I know the end goal. I'm taking it every step of the way but I'm like, I'm giving it like my football effort, like 1,000, everything I've got.
"The therapists, they'll be like 'man, this is crazy," Shazier continued. "I'm happy to be working with an athlete because I've never seen somebody work this hard.' They see progression almost every day. They say some progression they see week to week, they see from me day to day. I've got to get it. I'm really trying to come back and still be a Pro Bowler, still be an All-Pro."
With that being said, Shazier still has a long ways to go.
"One of the things I'm looking forward to doing is I just want to be able to start walking a little bit more by myself without using a cane," he said Wednesday. "And if that's camp, I'm happy for it. If it's the regular season, I'll be happy for it."
In the meantime, Shazier is embracing his role as a mentor to his teammates.
"To me, I always felt like you always can make yourself better or the team better by giving everybody all that you have," Shazier said. "That's what I try to do for those guys. They ask me any questions, I'm open in helping them."
To this point, Shazier's progress has been incredible to watch. Two days after the injury, which occurred when he made a tackle with his helmet down, he stood up at a Pittsburgh Penguins game and received a standing ovation. At the 2018 NFL Draft,Less than two weeks after the injury, Ever since then, . The progress has been remarkable to watch. In early February,
Along the way,In turn, so that Shazier could have access to that money immediately. , according to Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, but Shazier isn't giving up on his dream of returning after the 2018 season.
Shazier, who is still only 25, has been to two Pro Bowls in four seasons.