Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier has been honored over the past few years for the courageous battle he has fought and is winning, and another honor has come his way.
Shazier was voted the 2019 George Halas Award earlier this year, named by the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).
And on Sunday, before the Steelers took on the Los Angeles Rams at Heinz Field, Shazier was presented the award.
The Halas Award, named after the Hall of Famer and Chicago Bears icon, is presented to an NFL player, coach or staff member who has overcome the most adversity to succeed.
Shazier’s story is an amazing one. He suffered a spinal injury against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 4, 2017 and underwent spinal stabilization surgery two days later.
He has been an inspiration since that day, taking a positive approach to his recovery. He didn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself, instead getting out and doing everything he could to fight back. He is a regular in the Steelers weight room, always pushing himself to take the next step in his recovery.
Before the start of this season he kicked off his newly created Shalieve Fight Foundation. Shazier said since his injury he has heard from a lot of people who have suffered spinal cord injuries, many who fight a very private battle and need a helping hand. He has become an inspiration to many, something that can be a challenge and a great reward at the same time.
“It’s a heavy task because everything you do people are looking at you,” said Shazier. “People are hoping they can be like you. But it’s a blessing because you have a following of people that want you to be strong, believe in you and believe some day they can be in the same shoes as you.
“It’s sad that so many people are dealing with spinal cord injuries. People reaching out to me makes me want to help more. To be able to do this foundation, it means a lot. Not a lot of people have the opportunity to help others, to be in the shoes I am in to be able to help.
“It took me a while to figure out what foundation I wanted to do. But when this situation happened to me, and I learned what goes into it, I decided I want to be a voice for people with spinal cord injuries.”
Shazier is the third player in Steelers history to win the award, previously presented to Rocky Bleier (1975) and John Stallworth (1985). Steelers running back James Conner was also nominated for the award.