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Pittsburgh Steelers LB Ryan Shazier announces retirement from NFL

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Ryan Shazier announces retirement from NFL
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier finished his career with 299 total tackles, seven sacks, seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, seven interceptions and 25 passes defensed. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Pittsburgh Steelers star linebacker Ryan Shazier, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury that initially left him unable to walk, has officially retired from football.

The 28-year-old Shazier made the announcement in a video posted on social media Wednesday.

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"When I was five years old, I made the greatest discovery of my life," Shazier said in the Twitter video. "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 ever wanted and more. It taught me about hard work, dedication, teamwork. It took me to college and the NFL. It made me money and gave me a life most people could 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.

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"And I'm here to let the world know that today I am officially retiring from the game I love so much."

The Steelers put Shazier -- the team's first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft -- on the reserve/retired list earlier this year -- an administrative move that kept him as a member of the franchise but signaled the end of his playing career.

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"Never once have you ever said, 'Why me?'" Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told Shazier during a video conference Wednesday. "And that gives us the strength and gives others the strength to know that any challenge you can overcome and you have overcome.

"... I just want you to know, you can retire from the game of football, but you're never going to retire from being a Pittsburgh Steeler."

Shazier, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, spent parts of four seasons (2014-17) with the Steelers. He finished his career with 299 total tackles, seven sacks, seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, seven interceptions and 25 passes defensed.

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During a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 4, 2017, Shazier was left partially paralyzed after a tackle attempt on Bengals receiver Josh Malone. Shazier was rushed to a University of Cincinnati hospital and later underwent spinal stabilization surgery.

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Shazier didn't regain movement in his legs until February 2018.

"To lose the game in a way I never envisioned has not been easy," Shazier said. "When you play the game of football the way I did, you convince yourself you're Superman, that nothing can stop you. But then the moment I got hurt, I stopped being Superman. That was difficult to make sense [of]."

Since then, Shazier has reached numerous milestones in his rehab process. He walked across the stage with the help of his now-wife, Michelle, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, to announce the Steelers' first-round pick in the 2018 draft.

Shazier began jogging for the first time since his spinal surgery in November 2018, according to then-Steelers linebacker coach Joey Porter. In April 2019, Shazier posted a video of himself on social media doing a box jump.

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