Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier has won the 2019 George Halas Award by the Professional Football Writers of America.

Shazier, the 51st Halas Award winner, is the third Steeler to receive the honor from the PFWA, joining Rocky Bleier (1975) and John Stallworth (1985). He is making progress from a spinal contusion suffered in the 2017 season while making a tackle and has not played since.

The Halas Award is given to an NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. The award is named for Halas, a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who was associated with the Chicago Bears and NFL from their inception in 1920 until his death in 1983 as an owner, manager, player and promoter.

“In my 35 years covering the Steelers, I’ve seen many players overcome much adversity, but never have I seen such determination by a player to overcome what Ryan has and to reach a point, physically and mentally, where he is,” said Ed Bouchette, a PFWA voter. “It’s unbelievable how teammates talk about how he has inspired them. (Steelers VP/General Manager) Kevin Colbert and (Coach) Mike Tomlin have spoken many times about what he has meant to the organization, the front office and the players. He has been one big inspiration.

“He’s going to all the meetings, watching film, breaking down opponents, going in with the scouts to watch stuff, looking at prospects at draft time, and he’s on the field every day. He’s made remarkable recovery from an injury where many of us believed he wouldn’t be able to.

“He’s an inspiration to fans as well. His first public appearance was at a Steelers home game. They showed him on the Jumbotron, and the ovation was incredible. Same thing at a Penguins game. At the NFL draft, he walked without help publicly for the first time. He’s been a tremendous inspiration all the way around.”

Shazier was drafted by the Steelers in the first round in 2014. In Week 13 of the 2017 season against Cincinnati, Shazier attempted a head-first tackle, and after the play, reached for his back and could not move his legs. He underwent spinal stabilization surgery several days after his injury.

He has refused to give up on playing again.

Other 2019 nominees were Steelers running back James Conner; New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman; recently retired Houston Texans safety Andre Hal; and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

PRESEASON: Four preseason games remain too much for Roger Goodell.

The NFL Commissioner reiterated his stance of wanting to reduce the preseason schedule at a time the league and players’ association have begun preliminary talks on a new collective bargaining agreement.

“I feel what we should be doing is always to the highest quality, and I’m not sure preseason games meet that level right now,” Goodell said, while participating in Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s 33rd charity golf tournament outside of Buffalo, New York.

The NFL has long backed reducing the preseason schedule in exchange for expanding the regular season to as many as 18 games. Players have balked at the proposal by citing safety issues and a desire to receive additional compensation for playing a longer regular season.

PANTHERS: Carolina agreed to terms with six-time Pro Bowl free agent defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on a one-year contract worth up to $10.25 million with incentives, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Monday.

McCoy, who was cut by Tampa Bay in a salary cap move, will receive a $4 million signing bonus.

JAGUARS: Jacksonville signed journeyman receiver Terrelle Pryor, giving the team more depth and experience at the position.

JETS: New York interviewed Chicago Bears executive Champ Kelly, the fourth candidate to meet with New York for its general manager job.

Kelly has been the Bears’ assistant director of player personnel for the last two years after joining the organization as its pro scouting director in 2015.

He and Jets Coach Adam Gase have worked together previously for seven seasons. Kelly was in Denver for eight years in various roles from 2007-14, including assistant director of pro personnel his last three seasons with the Broncos. Gase was Denver’s wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator from 2009-14. Both Kelly and Gase went to Chicago in 2015.

The Jets have also interviewed Philadelphia Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas; New Orleans Saints director of pro scouting Terry Fontenot and Seattle Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer.

TOM TERRIFIC: In the battle of Tom vs. Tom, Mets fans are coming down squarely on the side of their guy.

Tom Brady landed on the wrong side of another sport’s New York fan base, angering Mets fans with his recent trademark application for a nickname “Tom Terrific” that has long belonged to Tom Seaver, one of the biggest stars of the Amazin’ Mets era.


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