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Prognosis for Steelers' Ryan Shazier remains a mystery, magazine says

Ben Schmitt
| Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, 1:15 p.m.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier attends the team's practice on Wednesday, December 10, 2017.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier attends the team's practice on Wednesday, December 10, 2017.

GQ magazine posed the question in a new article that many Pittsburgh Steelers and football fans have been asking since his horrific injury: Why the mystery surrounding Ryan Shazier's prognosis?

“All we know about Shazier is that he tackled Josh Malone, crumpled to the ground, grabbed his back, and couldn't move his legs. He has since had spinal stabilization surgery and his prognosis, at least publicly, remains hazy,” writer Drew Magary wrote in an article that posted Thursday.

A call to UPMC Thursday in light of the article prompted this response from spokesman Richard Pietzak: “No updates at this time.”

UPMC hasn't issued an update since Dec. 14 when it released this statement on Twitter: “Ryan Shazier remains hospitalized at UPMC recovering from the spinal stabilization surgery performed last week by UPMC neurosurgeons and Steelers team physicians Drs. David Okonkwo and Joseph Maroon. Mr. Shazier has started physical rehabilitation as part of his recovery process. Further updates will be provided by UPMC.”

Shazier sustained the injury on Dec. 4 in Cincinnati.

Magary is baffled by the lack of information from the NFL and physicians.

“Shazier is entitled to his privacy, and obviously his attitude toward recovery is exactly the sort of attitude you'd want from a patient,” he wrote. “But this isn't about Shazier. This is about the Steelers, and the NFL, deftly sidestepping the obvious horrors of Shazier's injury and turning it into a bizarre rah-rah story. This game put a man in a wheelchair, and yet there's every likelihood that the Steelers will invite Shazier to Sunday's playoff game against Jacksonville and have the crowd cheer him and wave Terrible Towels, and no one in the crowd will ever have to reckon with the broken body they're laying direct eyes upon.”

Shazier attended Steelers practice Wednesday in a wheelchair.

In an accompanying Instagram post, he said: “I've been making strides over the past month and continue to make progress. Taking it day-by-day, but I'm far from done.”

Officially, from a medical perspective, the public does not know what that means, Magary contends.

“And yes, this is good news, of a sort. But it's only good news in the context of an injury so utterly awful that the NFL— a league that will fine teams if they don't disclose injuries in time for you to set your fantasy lineup — hasn't even told us what it is,” he wrote. “... by keeping customers in the dark as to the true severity of Shazier's injury after that, and only focusing on the positive aspects of his prognosis, it feels as if the Steelers and the NFL deliberately turned this whole thing into an episode of ‘A Football Life' ”

In an interview this month with Shazier's father, Vernon, WPXI reported that the linebacker has regained feeling in his legs.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt. \

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