PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – It was one of the scariest things you can see on a football field as Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was carted off the field amid rumors that he didn’t have sensation in some of his extremities. Ben Roethlisberger joined The Cook and Poni Show for The #1 Cochran Ben Roethlisberger Show to give us the latest update on Shazier’s status as he continues to recover in a Cincinnati hospital.
“Obviously with him being back there in Cincinnati, we’re not getting all the reports right away but I’ve heard some really encouraging things. You know, a lot of things that the Steelers put out in reports and kind of updates I know from Kevin Colbert and some other people so I’m kind of hearing the same things. Just some encouraging things, but not out of the woods. Obviously just continued prayers for him and his family I think are the best thing that he can get right now.”
The sentiment a lot of fans seemed to share after the Shazier injury was that it was hard to move on and keep watching the game and Ben was asked if the players share similar feelings.
“When you’re out there, you’re worried about him and his health and all those things, but you also understand that you’ve got to continue to play a football game and you have to give your focus to that because if you’re not focused and in-tuned to what’s going on out there, you can get hurt as well.”
Shazier wasn’t the only player who had to leave the field on a stretcher as Juju Smith-Schuster put a crushing block on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict that forced him to be immobilized as well.
Ben talked about that hit and said ‘Juju’s was obviously in the realm of the game. I don’t think it was a cheap-shot by any means. Cheap-shots are when you hit someone away from a play, you go low on someone that’s not looking. He’s trying to block a guy that’s probably going to make a tackle. I really believe that he was just trying to help a teammate out being a selfless guy.”
When it comes to Juju standing over Burfict after the hit though, Ben shared with us what he told his young teammate.
“I told him afterwards, I said listen, ‘Love the effort, love how you’re trying to help your teammate get open. Standing over a guy, uncalled for.’ And he knew it. I think he knew it right away. I think he regretted it and he genuinely felt bad about that.”
When asked if he had compassion for Burfict in that moment, a guy who has tried to injure Steelers players in the past, Ben said “Absolutely. Anytime someone goes down, I said it afterwards, I said a prayer for him there. Regardless of what’s happened in the past, regardless of what you think of him as a person or player, any time someone goes down as injured, you have to feel compassion and feel compelled to pray for that person.”
Last night’s game showed us a lot of what the NFL is trying to get out of the league and it’s not the first time a Steelers-Bengals game has turned ugly. Ben was asked what can be done to fix this rivalry.
“I had that conversation with the Monday Night crew when I had the production meeting. This game sometimes it feels like it’s not just physical, I mean it’s physical obviously, but it feels like it’s more than juts a tough, hard-nosed football game. You know there’s been a lot of penalties, a lot of quote, unquote “dirty play,” things like that. When you discuss rivalries and hard-nosed football, you think about the Ravens and our matchups we’ve had in the past with them. I’ll credit both teams when we play, it is hard-fought, physical football. You knock someone’s head off and you help them up. You’re not doing anything dirty, you’re not trying to be cheap, you’re not taunting guys, it’s just a tough football game. Sometimes you feel like this game, this quote, unquote rivalry has turned sometimes dirty and it’s unfortunate.”
All of this led The Cook and Poni Show to ask Ben what a game like this does to his future as he discussed just this past offseason the idea of retirement.
“When we talked in the offseason about really evaluating and making sure, these are the reasons. And having kids, I hope my son plays golf. If he wants to play football that’s fine too but it’s a tough sport. It’s not for everyone. If he wants to do it, I’ll encourage it. If he doesn’t, I’m just fine with that as well.”
Click the link at the top of the post to hear more from Ben as he also talked about the actual game including Antonio Brown’s big game despite dealing with a toe injury, Le’Veon Bell’s touchdown where the Bengals players just let him run untouched down the sideline and the importance of the drive at the end of the first half that put their first three points on the board.
The #1 Cochran Ben Roethlisberger Show is heard exclusively every Tuesday at 11 am during the Steelers season on The Cook and Poni Show on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan.