1. Ryan Shazier has Surgery-As confirmed by his Doctor, the Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl linebacker had spinal stabilization surgery Thursday at UPMC in Pittsburgh. He had stayed in Cincinnati for 2 days after hurting his spine on a tackle early in the game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals and left the game via stretcher.
2. His Future for 2017? Well, the Steelers haven’t said anything yet, but it doesn’t take Einstein to figure out that Shazier’s done for the rest of the season. His fight is now for his life and the ability to walk again, not tackling running backs.
3. Perspective? I think there’s a huge one here. Shazier’s injury is a reminder that football is just a sport and it’s never easy to see a player go down like that, whether it’s a Steeler or another player. Folks try to reduce it to ‘Just Football’, I disagree. Injuries like that is not football, it’s an endangerment to a person’s life.
4. The Steelers perspective? Of course, they were devastated by Shazier’s injury (as evidenced of their first half vs. the Bengals) but the Steelers still have a season to finish and goals to meet, so they will play the rest of the season for Ryan Shazier.
5. The Rest of the NFL’s response? It was nice to see the NFL showing their support and offering prayers for Shazier. It doesn’t matter if it’s your teammate or not, but the fact that they’re all in the NFL fighting the same fight.
6. So, who will replace Shazier? I’m hoping not Tyler Matakevich, whom the Bengals ran over Monday night. He’s injured and still hasn’t practiced. With TJ Fort being the only other inside LB, the Steelers moved veteran Arthur Moats to the inside and signed former Steeler Sean Spence, a 2012 draft pick who also played for the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts.
7. How will Spence do? Well, he does know the Steelers system, but the concern is whether he can get the job done. He had elevated expectations during his first tour with the Steelers and had 37 tackles and a sack in 2015. I hope he and Moats can get the job done.
8. JuJu Smith-Shuster’s Suspension-Many folks were glad that the Steelers rookie WR leveled Bengals Bad Boy Vontaze Burfict on Monday. I’m not. This isn’t before 2010 when these hits were still legalized. Any hit like that will be costly and JuJu’s suspension is proof of that. And his standing over Burfict was also uncalled for. He’ll learn.
9. Steelers vs. Ravens-Through it all, the Steelers will face the Baltimore Ravens Sunday night and they will be playing a 7-5 team who may not look like the team they beat them 26-9 in Baltimore. QB Joe Flacco and the offense has found their rhythm and LB Terrell Suggs and the defense is on point too. But I think the Steelers can will this game if they come out swinging like they did against Tennessee.
10. If the Steelers win? They will improve to 11-2 and win their 2nd straight AFC North Division Title. They can also clinch a playoff berth if Buffalo loses to the Colts, but I can’t see that happening. The Steelers need to handle their own business.
11. In other NFL News: The 0-12 Cleveland Browns fired GM Sashi Brown, but retain HC Hue Jackson. This team is 1-27 in their past 2 seasons. I honestly hope the Browns don’t finish 0-16, that’s a disgrace. Just ask the 2008 Detroit Lions, who finished that season 0-16.
12. Gronk’s suspension just one game? That’s a disgrace and the contradiction of the NFL. New England Patriots TE Rob Grownkowski’s flagrant hit on Bills CB Tre’Daviois White gave him a concussion and it was intentional, and he got the game type of suspension as JuJu Smith-Shuster. He should’ve been suspended for at least 3 games. That’s the Patriots Privilege for you.
13. College Football Playoff-I was ok with 3 of the choices: Clemson (Yes, I finally admit they belong), Oklahoma and Georgia have earned their spots, especially since they won their conference championships, but Alabama getting the 4th spot is ridiculous. They didn’t win their conference and they weren’t undefeated. Why? The Crimson Privilege in my opinion.
14. What about UCF? The only undefeated team in the Top 25? Yep, I would’ve given it to them, because they were a ranked undefeated team. But because of politics and the excuse of their strength of schedule, they’re not in it. They will face Auburn in the Peach Bowl. I guess that’s a decent consolation prize.
15. Who Would I put in Alabama’s Spot? Ohio State, that’s who. They knocked off undefeated Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.
16. Mayfield wins top award-Baker Mayfield, the top QB for Oklahoma won the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the nation’s top QB. He’ll probably secure another top award in the Heisman in a few days.
17. The Cleveland Cavs are Red Hot! That they are, after winning their 13th consecutive game, the 18-7 Cavaliers now trail Conference leader Boston (22-4) by 3.5 games and have now shaken the label of being too old. This team can still dominate, thanks to Lebron James and veteran Dwyane Wade. But they’re still without G Isaiah Thomas, who was traded for Kyrie Irving. I hope they keep it going.
18. The Houston Rockets are also hot! Yep. This may be their year to take the Western Conference, provided they can get past defending champ Golden State, who is nipping at their heels at 20-6. Just give Rockets G James Harden the NBA MVP right now. I think it’s his year to win it.
19. Pat Narduzzi signs contract extension-It was just a matter of time, and the Pitt Panthers football team proved their commitment to Pat Narduzzi by signing him to a 7-year contract extension Wednesday. I think that was a wise move.
20. The Backyard Brawl-In Basketball, that is. The Panthers and the West Virginia Mountaineers will renew that historic rivalry Saturday at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt is 5-4 and WVU is ranked #15 at 8-1. They will fill up the Petersen Events Center, but I think WVU is going to destroy Pitt.
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Cameron Heyward is the Pittsburgh Steelers nominee for the WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD, it was announced today. Representing the best of the NFL’s commitment to philanthropy and community impact, Heyward was selected as the Steelers’ Man of the Year and is now eligible to win the national award. Considered one of the League’s most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field.