Former Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier is this year's recipient of the George Halas Award, the Pro Football Writers of America announced Monday.
The PFWA awards the George Halas Award to "an NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed."
Shazier has become an inspiration to his teammates, other football players and people all over the world over the past year-and-a-half as he has battled his way back from a serious spinal injury he suffered in a Monday Night Football game in December 2017.
Initially unable to move his legs upon suffering the injury, Shazier has made remarkable progress in his recovery. Among the milestones he has achieved along the way: Walking across the stage at the 2018 NFL draft, box jumping in April and dancing at his wedding in May.
While Shazier has not been able to return to the football field, he has repeatedly expressed that it is his goal to eventually play again, and he has continued to be an active member of the Pittsburgh Steelers' organization, assisting with coaching and scouting.
“In my 35 years covering the Steelers, I’ve seen many players overcome much adversity, but never have I seen such determination by a player to overcome what Ryan has and to reach a point, physically and mentally, where he is,” Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette said in a press release announcing the award. “It's unbelievable how teammates talk about how he has inspired them. (Steelers VP/general manager) Kevin Colbert and (head coach) Mike Tomlin have spoken many times about what he has meant to the organization, the front office and the players. He has been one big inspiration.
“He's going to all the meetings, watching film, breaking down opponents, going in with the scouts to watch stuff, looking at prospects at draft time, and he's on the field every day. He's made remarkable recovery from an injury where many of us believed he wouldn't be able to.
“He's an inspiration to fans as well. His first public appearance was at a Steelers home game. They showed him on the Jumbotron, and the ovation was incredible. Same thing at a Penguins game. At the NFL Draft, he walked without help publicly for the first time. He's been a tremendous inspiration all the way around.”