Steelers linebacker who suffered scary back injury needed an unexpected surgery and reportedly may not play football again

John Grieshop/Getty
  • Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was hospitalized on Monday after making a head-first tackle.
  • Shazier underwent spinal surgery on Thursday despite the team saying on Tuesday that he was not expected to need it.
  • A neurologist who consults with the NFLPA said Shazier may not play football again.

The Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday announced that linebacker Ryan Shazier underwent surgery after suffering a spinal injury from a head-on tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday.

ESPN’s Michele Steele reported on Twitter a neurologist who consults with the NFLPA said the injury is “more severe” than expected and Shazier may not play football again. Steele noted the neurologist had not seen Shazier’s medical records and was only giving his professional opinion.

“Just got off phone w neurologist Dr Anthony Alessi, who consults w NFLPA, asked him what he makes of Shazier’s spinal stabilisation surgery,” Steele wrote. “‘It’s not good…We’re not going to see him this season. He may not play football again.'”

Steele also reported via Twitter: “Alessi says surgery is needed when the ‘bones around his spinal cord are dislocated. This is a more severe injury (than a contusion.) This is a much more severe situation on our hands than we thought.'”

After making a head-first tackle on Monday, Shazier laid on the field for minutes afterward, grabbing both his head and his back and not moving his legs. He was carted off the field and taken to a hospital.

On Tuesday, the team said his condition was improving and he was not expected to need surgery.

It’s unclear what has happened since Tuesday, only that Shazier’s condition has not improved in the way the team had hoped. The team announced Shazier had been moved from Cincinnati to a hospital in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Shazier tweeted on Tuesday in response to the well-wishes from around the NFL world:

ESPN reported on Tuesday that Steelers linebacker Vince Williams said Shazier told him at the time of the injury that he had feeling in his lower extremities.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the surgery will take months of recovery, putting Shazier’s career at risk.

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