It wasn’t supposed to end like this.
As a first-round pick out of Ohio State, Ryan Shazier demonstrated tremendous promise that translated into immediate success as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But during a Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 4, 2017, the two-time Pro Bowler suffered a gruesome spinal contusion that would require spinal stabilization surgery.
He would never return to the field.
On Wednesday, Shazier officially announced his retirement from the game he loved.
“When I was five years old, I made the greatest discovery of my life,” he said in a video posted to Twitter. “I discovered the game that I love: the game of football. Ever since then, I’ve given my life to the game. I love everything about it.”
“Football gave me everything I could ever want and more. It taught me about hard work, dedication, teamwork. It took me to college and the NFL. It made me money. It gave me a life that most people can only dream about. I’m here today to make sure the world knows how much I still love football. How grateful I am for everything football gave me. And I’m here to let the world know that today I am officially retiring from the game I love so much.”
In the years following his spinal injury, Shazier inspired millions with his resilience. After regaining movement in his legs months after his accident, he defied the odds by teaching himself how to drive and lift weights again before eventually walking his bride down the aisle at their 2019 wedding.
In response to his announcement, many have taken to Twitter to celebrate his contributions both on and off the field.
Shazier has yet to reveal what he has in store for the future, but he sounds eager to face whatever lies ahead.
“When you play the game of football the way I did, you convince yourself you’re Superman, that nothing can stop you,” he said. “But then the moment I got hurt, I stopped being Superman, and that was difficult to make sense. But the way I look at it, God put us all here for a purpose. For 20 years, he let me play football. And now it’s time for me to do what he wants me to do.”