Ryan Shazier's Spinal Injury Is 'Severe,' NFL Players Union Doctor Says

"He may not play football again."

Early optimism for the recovery of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier has taken a hit.

Dr. Anthony Alessi, a neurologist who consults for the NFL Players Association, delivered discouraging news after Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery this week. Shazier was carted off the field Monday, apparently unable to move his legs, after making a head-first tackle in a game against the host Cincinnati Bengals.

Alessi, who does not treat Shazier, told ESPN Thursday that the athlete “may not play football again.”

“This is a much more severe situation on our hands than we thought,” he said.

Initially, the Steelers said that Shazier would not require surgery, and an unidentified team source said that his situation “was better than what it could have been.”

On Wednesday the team issued a short announcement that Shazier had undergone surgery at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Guard Ramon Foster told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the team instructed players not to comment on Shazier’s condition.

“I’m not worried about him playing for us again, I’m more worried about him,” defensive coordinator Keith Butler told the paper.

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