Ryan Shazier in attendance at Steelers-Patriots game

As inspirational visitors go, it’d be tough to top this one: Ryan Shazier, the heart and soul of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, was in the house as the Steelers met the New England Patriots in a crucial AFC matchup on Sunday afternoon.

Shazier suffered a critical back injury, a spinal contusion, early in December against the Cincinnati Bengals. He underwent surgery and is out for at least the 2017 season, although the Steelers sported his number and patched him in to the locker room via FaceTime after last week’s game.

Shazier, sitting in one of Heinz Field’s luxury boxes, waved a Terrible Towel to bring the hometown crowd to its feet. CBS indicated that many players weren’t aware of Shazier’s presence at the game at kickoff. But they’ve been playing hard for him all month long.

Ryan Shazier watches his team in action. (CBS screen shot)
Ryan Shazier watches his team in action. (CBS screen shot)

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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