Former Steeler AQ Shipley Suffers Career-Ending Neck Injury

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AQ Shipley


Joe Sargent/Getty Images

A.Q. Shipley (#61) runs a blocking drill against Jordan Reffett (#64) during rookie training camp at the Pittsburgh Steelers Practice Facility on May 1, 2009.

On Monday night—after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered a 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams—Bucs head coach Bruce Arians indicated that Tampa Bay’s 34-year-old center A.Q. Shipley had been hurt during the game, but surmised that it was nothing serious.

“He just had a stinger,” Arians said. “It looks like he’s going to be OK.”

As it turns out, that assessment appears to have been premature.

In the middle of the week, Arians appeared on SiriusXM NFL Radio and advised: “A.Q. Shipley appears to have had a career-ending injury. And I feel bad because I love A.Q. He’s one of my favorite players of all-time and was playing good for us. But I think it was a previous injury that might have just got aggravated in his neck.”


Buccaneers Place Shipley on Injured Reserve

On Saturday the Buccaneers placed A.Q. Shipley on injured reserve, with Arians telling ESPN, “Once we did [an] MRI and X-rays, it was determined that he really shouldn’t play anymore.”

But “to have an injury stop [his career] so suddenly, it’s really hard on him, [and] it’s hard on me,” added Arians.

The good news is that Arians is going to give Shipley the opportunity to start his coaching career—apparently, right away.

“He aspires to be a coach,” Arians told ESPN, “and I think he’s gonna be a great one, so we’ll get him started to make sure he likes this life.”

To be sure, Shipley will be in good company, working alongside several other former Steelers players on Arians’ staff. Recall that former QB Byron Leftwich is Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator, and former Steelers inside linebacker Larry Foote is the team’s outside linebackers coach. The Tampa Bay staff also includes ex-Steelers wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who is an offensive assistant.


A.Q. Shipley’s NFL Career

Shipley was a seventh-round draft choice of the Steelers in 2009 (No. 226 overall), part of the same draft class that produced defensive end Ziggy Hood in the first round and speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace in round three.

Yet Shipley didn’t really establish himself in the NFL until 2012, when he appeared in 14 games for the Indianapolis Colts. After that he played one season for the Baltimore Ravens—then spent another year in Indianapolis before settling down in the desert for four years with the Arizona Cardinals. He joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020.

Over the course of his 12 years as an NFL player, Shipley appeared in 110 games and made 72 starts, mostly at center, but he also worked at left guard.

Shipley played his college football at Penn State, where he won the 2008 Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to Division I-A college football’s most outstanding center. Current Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey won the Rimington Trophy a year later before being drafted by Pittsburgh in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

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