Should the Steelers Retire Ryan Shazier’s Number?

By: G.Stryker, Twitter @SNStryker and Instagram @SNStryker


The Pittsburgh Steelers have only retired two numbers in team history: #70 and #75. #70 was worn by Ernie Stautner (probably the best player to suit up for the Steelers before the 7o’s). In 14 seasons, he only missed six games and played nearly all of the positions on the defensive line, as well as some time at offensive guard. Stautner made it to nine Pro Bowls and nine All-Pro teams, and retired with the NFL record for career safeties (3) and third in fumbles recovered (23).  

#75 was worn by Chuck Noll’s very first draft pick, Mean Joe Greene, who was the cornerstone of the Steel Curtain defense. In 13 seasons, he only missed nine games while earning four Super Bowls. He was Defensive Rookie of the Year (1969), Defensive Player of the Year twice (1972 & 1974), and NFL Man of the Year in 1975 (now named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award). His 10 Pro Bowls and eight All-Pro Awards are just a taste of the dominating player he was when he stepped onto the field for the black and gold.  

Now begs the question, should Ryan Shazier join these other two players as the only retired numbers in Steelers history? In 2014, Shazier was drafted in the first round as a junior from Ohio State University. He didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, but his unofficial Pro Day time of 4.38 seconds is the fastest time recorded for a linebacker. He quickly showed he could utilize that speed as the coaching staff named him as their rookie starting inside linebacker. In 2015, he forced two fumbles, including what would have been the game clinching drive in the Miracle Meltdown wild card game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was named to two consecutive Pro Bowls in 2016 & 2017, and the Steelers were poised for a deep playoff run with Shazier as the catalyst of that resurgent defense.  

Shazier’s life changed on December 4th of 2017 when he leaned in to make a routine tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals and went limp on the play. Diagnosed with a spinal contusion, he underwent spinal stabilization surgery two days later, and it was unsure whether he’d be able to walk again. On draft day April 28th, just 4 ½ months after surgery, Shazier shocked the world as he walked across the stage with his fiancee to announce the Steelers’ first round draft pick, Terrell Edmunds. By the end of November, just under one year removed from his injury, he was jogging. Ryan Shazier was an inspiration to Steeler Nation as he overcame all odds to be able to walk and run again. His #Shalieve movement helped other people dealing with their own injuries and the obstacles faced to overcome them.  

Shazier served as a de facto linebackers coach and mentor to the young Devin Bush during his outstanding rookie season. It had been three years since the Steelers had another fast, playmaking inside linebacker who could move and defend like Shazier. Bush also started his first game as a rookie. He quickly caused turnovers and made splash plays to help the Steelers win. Shazier also serves as an inspirational public speaker to tell his story of what he has overcome to beat the odds and regain his ability to walk.

Today Shazier announced his retirement from professional football. As difficult as it was for Steeler Nation to hear, we realized the writing was on the wall since he sold his home in Fox Chapel, and did not attend training camp. Shazier left us with the direction of his life’s work on his Twitter page when he stated, I am going to step away from the game for a while and see what else life has to offer. I know football will always be here if I need it. But right now, I’m excited to explore some new challenges and paths. You’ll be hearing from me real soon about all the things I’ve been doing.”

Ryan Shazier was as talented of a player the NFL has ever seen. He was a budding defensive superstar whose career was tragically cut down far too early. He gave his football career and nearly his ability to walk to the Pittsburgh Steelers on the field of play. His journey to struggle to walk again and putting others’ needs ahead of his own by mentoring his teammates is an immeasurable benefit to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I know the Steelers probably haven’t given thought to this yet, but I don’t ever see anyone else wearing #50 for the Steelers again. It may be a farfetched idea, but should the Steelers ever choose to retire #50, it will look right at home next to numbers 75 and 70.


Do you think the Steelers should retire Ryan Shazier’s number? Let us know what you think below.


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