What we saw on Monday Night Football is something you never wish to see happen to anyone. On an attempted tackle Ryan Shazier of the Pittsburgh Steelers bounced off of Josh Malone and hit the ground. He grabbed for his lower back while on his stomach and rolled over. His legs looked limp and from that point to when he was immobilized and put in an ambulance, no one saw them move. This Coach’s Corner will be solely focused on this play.
Countless NFL players and fans have wished Shazier luck in his recovery. Reiterated by even bitter rivals, it doesn’t matter what team you play for, you don’t want to see a player go down like that. In this injury, there’s room to teach other NFL players, and even young players.
Tackling has been the center of focus lately with the rise of the rugby/Seahawk tackle. This type of tackle tries to limit injury and lower the risk of concussions. What needs continued emphasis is players need to keep their head up all the way through a tackle. What we saw with Ryan Shazier was his eyes facing the ground, exposing his neck/head to injury. Had Shazier had his head up and had his eyes looking through the hips of Josh Malone, he may have stayed in the game and avoided injury.
This isn’t meant to criticize Shazier, but it’s more to drive home the point to young players that safety starts with keeping your head up. A high profile accident like this can be used as a teaching tool. Keeping your head up through a tackle is important for many reasons. You can’t tackle what you can’t see. And, as we sadly saw on Monday night, it could cost you so much.
I genuinely hope that Ryan Shazier is able to recover from this terrible accident. If he doesn’t play football again, a decision anyone could respect, I hope that he can return to full health. After undergoing season-ending spinal surgery and facing months of rehab, the football world sends its prayers and well wishes to you, Ryan Shazier. Good luck and stay strong.