It’s still unclear whether Ryan Shazier will ever be able to play football again, but Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II said Shazier will be with the team in some capacity going forward.
“I expect Ryan is going to be here one way or the other and have a role with the team one way or the other in 2018, for sure,” Rooney said on Wednesday, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Shazier suffered a serious spinal injury on December 4 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and remained in the hospital for nearly a month after undergoing surgery. The two-time Pro Bowler attended the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game on Tuesday night, and returned the standing ovation given to him by the crowd by standing himself, which he hasn’t done publicly since his injury.
Even if he doesn’t play, Shazier will still count $8.7 million against the Steelers’ salary cap for 2018 because he signed the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.
One other nugget from Rooney’s talk with reporters: he agreed with the application of the catch rule in the team’s loss to the Patriots, which took a Jesse James touchdown off the board.
“Look, I think the Jesse James play was actually called the right way,” he said. “That’s the way the rule reads, but I don’t think that should be the rule. I think that he had possession of that ball, reached into the end zone and had possession when he was reaching in. If he were a running back, that would have been a touchdown.
“Just having consistency in the way plays are officiated like that, I think we have room to improve it.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said multiple times last week that he’s concerned by the catch rule; it looks headed for a re-tooling at minimum this offseason.