There’s apparently a stigma out there with regard to Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Shazier was recently asked by the NFL Network about being labeled by some as a dirty player. Shazier seems surprised — as were we — that Pittsburgh’s linebacker is possibly considered dirty by some of his peer and opposing fan bases.
“I didn’t know I was a dirty player,” Shazier said. “Well, I just play my best every game. I’m not trying to hurt people. I’ve been hurt enough, so I’m not out there trying to hurt people. I know how that feels when you’re hurt and can’t play the game that you love. If people want to call me a dirty player, then whatever.
“But at the end of the day, I just got out there and play my best. If a dude drops his head when I’m going to tackle you, then I can’t control that. I just give everything I got every time I’m out there.”
The Steelers will look to honor Dan Rooney in 2017. Keep up with all of the news and sign up for our FREE Steelers newsletter
Shazier received plenty of heat from Bengals players and fans after his crushing hit on Cincinnati running back Giovanni Bernard in the 2015 AFC wild card round. Bernard caught a short pass before being leveled by Shazier, fumbling the ball and being knocked out of the game.
While Shazier wasn’t flagged or fined for his hit on Bernard, the league ruled this offseason that such hits going forward would be deemed illegal.
Shazier was labeled as a bust by many fans after his missed 11 of his first 22 NFL games with injuries. But when he’s been on the field, the former Ohio State standout has been everything the Steelers hoped he would be when they made him their first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. After recording 107 tackles and four forced fumbles (including the postseason) in 2015, Shazier recorded 105 tackles in 2016 while recording an interception in four consecutive games en route to earning his first career Pro Bowl selection.
While he may have solidified his place as one of the best young inside linebackers in the NFL, Shazier has his sights set on even greater goals that includes a place in Canton after helping the Steelers add to their Super Bowl collection.
“To me, my goal is to make the Hall of Fame,” Shazier said. “If you’re playing your best football every year, contracts and things like that will come with it. I’m not really worried about the contract talks and how big this season is because I feel like every season is big for me. To have a Hall of Fame career, you have to have consistent, great seasons. I’m starting to have pretty good ones.