Ryan Shazier on helmet rule: Changing will be hard

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If Ryan Shazier ever returns to football as he hopes, he’s going to have to play the game differently.

The Steelers linebacker admitted that he’s not sure how defensive players in the NFL are going to adjust to the rule that was inspired after his head-down hit against the Bengals which left him temporarily paralyzed.

“Honestly I have been playing football when I was 4, so some of the hits that I did were some of the same ones I’ve had since I was 10 years old,” Shazier said during his first press conference since the injury. “So it’s kind of hard when they are trying to tell you to avoid hitting a certain way because at the end of the day, a lot of people who are playing this game have been probably playing it since before they could really speak full sentences, and honestly it’s a little hard.

“But you just have to start playing the way they want you to play, start tackling more with your shoulders, I guess, and just to completely avoid people’s upper half. At the end of the day it’s kind of hard if somebody is coming at you a certain way – but you have just go play the way they want you to.”

As he noted, that kind of fundamental change in tackling is going to take time to implement, but this year’s rule change to prohibit lowering the head to initiate contact is at least a step in the right direction.

And despite the fact he’s walking with a cane now, Shazier made it clear that he hoped to return to the field someday. Asked why, and he became a commercial for the game.

“Because I’ve played the game since I was 4 years old, I’ve loved the game since I was 4 years old,” he said. “Just because I got hurt doesn’t mean I’m going to stop loving football.

“When you give your best at anything you do, I feel it makes it a little easier when something happens to you because you never have to look back and regret that you didn’t go hard enough.

“I feel like I gave everything I had, I got hurt and I’m still going to give everything I have to come back.”

Perhaps if he had been taught to play another way when he was 4, his current situation could have been avoided. And while the NFL’s rule change is a top-down solution for the sport, it’s hard to imagine any player who sees Shazier now not realizing the risks of leading with your head.

12 responses to “Ryan Shazier on helmet rule: Changing will be hard

  1. Shazier seems like a good guy, and I truly wish him the best in his recovery. But it sounds like he could have really used a good coach when he was young, to emphasize the proper way to tackle.

    The first coach I had in tackle football ended every practice by saying “what’s the most important rule in tackle football?” and the players would respond, “keep your head up”. Shazier would still be an NFL linebacker if he had learned that the easy way.

  2. I don’t know Ryan. I think you are a great guy and wish you a full recovery but let’s be honest here. YOU are the poster child for why the NFL is putting this rule in place. if YOU had not paralyzed yourself last season then there would likely be no rule change whatsoever.

  3. His injury was completely self inflicted unfortunately. So to see him admit he tackles head first is no surprise, if anything it makes one wonder how it never happened before.

  4. At pee wee, mites, midgets, and high school levels the coaches preach keeping your head up and leading with your shoulder. But some players choose not to listen.

  5. Watching ‘jacked up’ on ESPN is no longer a thing (or watching ESPN in general for that matter) but players still try to ‘blow up’ their opponent most of the time, mainly to dislodge the ball, but rarely effective if you looked at every tackle on the overall.

    As much as I despised the guy, most of Ray Lewis tackles were fundamentally flawless, head up, square up the player, wrap up. Something you learn when you are very young. Sadly, seems Ryan didn’t learn that. Though I’m sure his coaches didn’t teach lead with your head, probably a bit of sensationalizing on his part.

    I guess I’m a bit old school, my favorite tackle is a guy that either shoots the gap and wraps up the QB/RB in the back field or a DB that immediately wraps up a WR/RB for no gain. Oh well, off my soap box.

  6. Everyone always wants everyone else to change, but no one wants to change themselves.

  7. He LOWERED his head and lead with it for almost every hit he made, exposing his spine to compression over and over. How is this “normal” tackling? It isn’t, it’s stupid.

  8. That was a fluke play..Watch it more closely..The moment he was about to hit/take hit, his legs were taken out from behind by VW..He lost his ability to thrust/brace with his legs, leaving his back to absorb all the energy from the collision..Helmets or technique had nothing to do with his injury..

  9. Shazier was the absolute worst when it comes to lowering the head. Every time I watched the Steelers, I thought someone will get hurt. Glad he is doing ok, but he is literally the poster child for how not to tackle.

  10. Matthew Lembke says:
    June 7, 2018 at 9:55 am
    That was a fluke play..Watch it more closely..The moment he was about to hit/take hit, his legs were taken out from behind by VW..He lost his ability to thrust/brace with his legs, leaving his back to absorb all the energy from the collision..Helmets or technique had nothing to do with his injury..
    ———————-
    You can’t be that blind, can you? His legs were barely grazed by his teammate, after he impacted the receiver. Had Shazier hit Malone in the back with his shoulder instead of the top of his head, he would have popped right back up.

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