He thought it was a stinger–just a typical football injury.
But for Tampa Bay offensive lineman A.Q. Shipley, it ended up being career-ending.
“I thought it was a stinger. I was literally ready go go back into the game,” Shipley recalled. “Get an MRI the next day–I’ve got a bruise on my spinal cord. I was lucky as heck to walk away from the thing.”
Shipley suffered the injury during the Bucs’ 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 23.
Just three days later–on Nov. 26–head coach Bruce Arians announced that Shipley’s injury was likely over. He was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 28 and eventually elected to retire.
“It was about a 48-hour period where I was really feeling sorry for myself. And then it was like, all right, let’s figure something out,” Shipley said.
It almost seems like Shipley can’t get away from Bucs coach Bruce Arians, who also coached Shipley in Indianapolis and Arizona. He has described Shipley as one of his all-time favorite players to coach.
Given their close relationship, Shipley turned to Arians to figure out his next move.
“I went to [coach Arians] and told him I wanted to be involved, wanted to start kind of helping out coaching if I could, and he thought that was a great idea,” Shipley said. “Kind of got me involved right away.”
But his new role has meant an adjustment process. With the Buccaneers playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday, all Shipley can do is watch and cheer.
“It’s gonna be… there’s gonna be a bunch of different emotions, no question, not being able to play,” he said. “But I’m very, very OK with where I’m at.”
Shipley enjoys his blossoming career as a coach. And with his playing days over, he’s finally hitting some weight-loss goals. So far, he’s dropped 40 pounds now that the demands of being a burly offensive lineman are no longer a concern.