Last night during Monday Night Football, the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals stood still momentarily as Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier that looked to put the rest of his playing career in serious doubt.
Shazier attempted to tackle wide receiver Josh Malone during a play in the first quarter of the game, but in his attempt, the top of his head made contact with the wideout's thigh. Immediately after the hit, he reached for his back and wiggled both arms into the air, but did not appear to move his legs after the hit.
The linebacker was strapped to a backboard as players knelt around him, and was carted off the field to the locker room for a back injury evaluation before being transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center by ambulance.
It was later revealed that Shazier had suffered a spinal contustion, according to NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala.
In a statement by the Steelers, the team's general manager Kevin Colbert said Shazier underwent a CT scan and an MRI at the hospital and that he will not need surgery at this time. He said the 25-year-old will remain in the hospital overnight for further evaluation with "hopes of returning to Pittsburgh on Tuesday."
As you can see from the video below, it's quite the shocking sight to see, and hopefully, Shazier is able to make a full recovery and return to the field to play for the Steelers later on this season. Former Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox suffered a similar injury in the early 2000s and missed just one game, so there is a chance the linebacker could be back sooner rather than later.
Doctors will know more about Shazier's injury once some of the injury's swelling recedes. Head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game that while incidents like this are tough to accept, they know it's part of the game which they participate in.
"This is a tough game, a tough business," coach Mike Tomlin said. "5-0 is our brother. Our thoughts and prayers out to him. ... We care about that man, we care about all the men. But that's just a tough element of our game, one that we all understand."
The Steelers managed to defeat the Bengals 23-20 by the end of the game, and they'll now prepare to play against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14.