TFG Pod: Vernon Shazier (Ryan’s Dad) on Faith and Humanity in the Wake of Tragedy

From the The Football Girl Podcast, hosted by Melissa Jacobs. Please subscribe in iTunes to get the new episodes of pod in your feed the second we publish. If you like what you hear, please rate and/or review us! 

It was a phone call Vernon Shazier will never forget. His son, Ryan, amidst being rushed to a Cincinnati hospital last month with a severe back injury, called his father and said, “Daddy, pray for me, I can’t feel my legs. “

The days and weeks following the terrifying spine injury Ryan suffered on Monday Night Football the night of December 4th have been filled with both sorrow and enlightenment for the Shazier family.

Vernon, a pastor and motivational speaker, joins the pod this week to detail life in the aftermath of tragedy. Vernon describes his frequent visits to Ryan, the guardian angels he’s met along the way, whether he’d want Ryan to play football if he could start anew and much more. His powerful words are filled with light and hope and contain lessons that anyone can apply.

Also in this episode, Melissa Jacobs has some lingering thoughts on poor officiating and another botched concussion protocol from wild-card weekend and makes picks for the divisional round.

The Rundown

(:36): Melissa on poor officiating in wild-card weekend

(2:48): Melissa on Cam Newton’s probable concussion and the ills on the NFL’s concussion protocol

(8:57): Vernon Shazier on how he heard the news of Ryan’s injury

(11:30): Vernon on receiving a call from Ryan as he was rushed to the hospital.

(14:50): How Vernon and the entire Shazier family are getting through the days

(17:15): The Shaziers meet a guardian angel in the Cincinnati airport

(25:30): Vernon on how his crying has shifted in recent weeks

(29:35): Vernon describes his visits with Ryan and the healthy new hobby his son has adopted

(32:32): Vernon on the surprising aspect of the hit that injured Ryan

(37:19): Vernon on being with Ryan when he surprised Steelers fans at Heinz Field

(40:20): Melissa makes picks for divisional weekend.


Vernon on how kindness has helped the Shazier family

“Even though this is the toughest and most painful experience that my family and I have been through, simultaneously it is one of the richest because the love and support and caring that people have displayed and continued to display is overwhelming.”

How Vernon is coping with Ryan’s injury

Every day I wake up and say, ‘You are a champion’ and throughout the day I’m living and sustaining myself on the word of God and trust in faith of God. That’s what I’ve been teaching myself teaching others, teaching my family, and that’s what’s getting us through. Is it a daily struggle? Yes, it is a daily struggle but the good news is God only gives us one day at a time.”

On whether Vernon would want Ryan to play football if he could do it all over:

“Yeah, it has been a joy, it’s been refreshing for him. He’s learned so much through it. Most people on the surface just see the game but they have no idea about how much sports teaches you about life, about character, about integrity, about responsibility, about teamwork. There are so many lessons beyond the scoreboard.”