There is making lemonade out of lemons, and then there is how former Tennessee Titans linebacker Tim Shaw has spent his post-football life.
Shortly after leaving the NFL, Shaw was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the Yankees legend, who died from ALS in 1941 — in 2014. Shaw has spent the last seven years giving back to football and serving as a motivational speaker and author.
Tim Shaw is a former Titans linebacker
A fifth-round selection of the Carolina Panthers in 2007, Tim Shaw spent most of his six NFL seasons as a special team ace.
Shaw totaled 128 tackles in 80 games with four different teams from 2007-12. After bouncing around in his first three seasons, Shaw found a home with the Tennessee Titans in 2010.
Over the next three years, Shaw recorded 87 tackles — including four for a loss when the Titans played him at linebacker — and forced two fumbles.
Pro-Football-Reference began listing snap counts in 2012, Shaw’s final season in the NFL. Shaw played 20% of the Titans’ defensive snaps and 69% of the team’s special teams snaps.
Shaw was diagnosed with ALS in 2014
Although the Tennessee Titans cut Tim Shaw shortly before the 2013 season began, his life officially changed in the spring of 2014.
A doctor diagnosed Shaw with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, just months after he played his most recent preseason game. The diagnosis ended Shaw’s NFL career only weeks after he turned 30.
Shaw revealed his prognosis in August 2014 when he did the Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral trend aimed at raising money to fight ALS.
Tim Shaw has used his prognosis to help others
Tim Shaw has used his ALS diagnosis to help others in their own lives.
Shaw is now a motivational speaker and author. In 2017, Shaw and Richard Sowienski co-wrote Blitz Your Life: Stories from an NFL and ALS Warrior.
In an interview that year with USA Today, Shaw reflected on his diagnosis and how he’s tried maintaining an optimistic perspective in the years since.
“We can have these big elaborate plans and we want all these great things in life, but sometimes it’s simple. Sometimes what’s most important is, ‘Today I just want to do the right thing.’ So that’s what I mean. My life can be very complicated but it can be very simple. I just want to not fall over today. I’m so thankful, I’m in a really cool stage of life where I’m teetering to where I’m not so fun but right now I have an awesome life. I travel, I play amazing golf. I have money, I have freedom.”
The Titans signed Shaw in 2016 so that he could retire with the team. Ahead of the 2017 season, Titans head coach Mike Mularkey named Shaw — who had spoken to the team and shared his experiences — one of the team’s six captains.
The Titans went 9-7 in 2017 and reached the AFC playoffs for the first time since 2008. Tennessee made it to the divisional round before losing to Tom Brady and the Patriots.
All stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.