Tim Shaw was one of the best in the NFL at running downfield and making tackles during his playing days.
Now, less than a year since he was last with an NFL team, the 30-year-old Shaw announced on the Tennessee Titans website that he is suffering from ALS — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Shaw played three seasons in Tennessee after spending the 2009 season with the Bears. He was one of the Titans’ final cuts in 2013, just less than 12 months ago.
“I’m Tim Shaw,” he said in the video. “A year ago I was playing NFL football. I have recently been diagnosed with ALS. I am here today to stand up and fight with all of you against this disease.
“I want to challenge the Tennessee Titans organization, coach James Franklin and the Penn State football team, and my Clarenceville (Mich.) community. Let’s do this.”
Shaw then dumps a bucket of ice water on his head in the video.
Shaw spent a total of six seasons in the NFL primarily as a special teams performer and as a reserve linebacker. Shaw set a Bears franchise record with 30 tackles on special teams in 2009 after he made a career-high eight in the season finale at Detroit to go with a forced fumble in that game. It was a special game for Shaw because so many friends and family from Michigan were in attendance.
Against the judgment of special teams coordinator Dave Toub, the Bears waived Shaw before the start of the 2010 season and the Titans claimed him, beginning a successful three-year run there where he headed up Tennessee’s special teams units. He was the Titans special teams captain in 2011 and 2012. Shaw originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2007. He also spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Former New Orleans Saints special teams standout Steve Gleason, 37, has done much to bring awareness to the disease since he was diagnosed in 2011. Kevin Turner, a fullback, and O.J. Brigance, a linebacker, are two other former NFL players living with the disease.
According to the ALS Association’s website, as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time. Typically, it is found in people between the ages of 40 and 70. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.