The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered a devastating blow with the loss of linebacker Ryan Shazier on Monday night. Shazier suffered a spinal injury while making a routine tackle on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone, forcing him to be taken off the field in a stretcher before eventually going to the hospital.
It became evident soon thereafter that he had sustained a potentially career-threatening injury on the play. To no surprise, it has since been reported by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport that Shazier will miss the remainder of the 2017 NFL season.
#Steelers LB Ryan Shazier’s spinal surgery will necessitate months of recovery, sources say, before he considers a return to football. His season is over. A very difficult situation.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 7, 2017
Furthermore, his playing career is in question as well. According to ESPN's Michelle Steele, Dr. Anthony Alessi gave his ominous thoughts on the injury:
“It’s not good,” Alessi said. “We’re not going to see him this season. He may not play football again.”
It was apparent that Shazier would likely miss significant time in the immediate aftermath of him going down. However, the prospect of his playing days potentially being over is truly unfortunate.
Shazier's injury comes in the midst of a controversial league-wide initiative to tone down dangerous hits. Although the NFL has received major backlash from players and fans alike, instances like this only help to further prove their stance, especially given that it occurred on a normal play.
The league can take all the precautions it can, but they can never fully guarantee a player's safety given the unpredictable nature of the sport.