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Published on 01/03/2012 at Tue Jan 03 11:21.
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Safety Ryan Clark #25 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Karl Walter/Getty Images)

Safety Ryan Clark #25 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Karl Walter/Getty Images)

In 2007, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark suffered one of the NFL’s largest health scares of the last decade. The fallout is still being felt today.

Four years ago, playing in the high altitude in Denver, Clark had to be rushed to the hospital because his spleen was shutting down. Clark’s sickle cell trait and Denver’s high altitude caused the crisis, and ultimately the safety lost his spleen, gall bladder, and 30 pounds due to the ordeal.

This weekend would mark the third time since then that the Steelers have played the Broncos in Denver. Every time, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has sat an otherwise healthy Clark, even when doctors have cleared Clark to play.

Today, Tomlin informed Clark that a playoff game doesn’t make a difference. Calling it an “easy decision,” Tomlin informed Clark that he will sit.

“I met with Ryan Clark and have informed him I am not going to allow him to play in this game,” Tomlin said.

Ryan Mundy, a third-year Steeler with only two career starts but over 90 career tackles, will start in Clark’s place.

As unbiased, unselfishly, and objectively as a Broncos fan can muster: kudos to Tomlin for taking care of his player first. And as Florio points out, if you’re going to be thin in the secondary, it might as well be against the Broncos.

/ducks for cover

Tomlin informs Ryan Clark he won’t face Broncos [ProFootballTalk]

  • Bryan

    I think its a good call and I applaud Mike Tomlin for making the call.  Risking a man’s life to play a game isn’t worth it.  It’s like the old saying, live to fight another day. 

  • Anonymous

    Sucks for him and the Steelers to keep him off the field, but a game isn’t worth your life. You want to be able to spend the money you are making with your family instead of leaving it to them because you are dead.

  • Anonymous

    Mendenhall won’t play either. Tore ACL against Browns on Sunday.

  • Anonymous

    not sure that even matters with how badly our run defense can be at times. We’ve seen what backups who look pathetic against all other teams can do to us *cough*Minnesota*cough*

  • Anonymous

    he scared, son!

  • guest

    Its good that Tomlin is making this call, but where was the criticism for their handling of Polamalu’s concussions? Oh, sorry, they were “concussion like symptoms,” and not actual concussions. I forgot.

  • Anonymous

    Well, that’s not exactly the same thing. Clark has an altitude triggered problem that can cost him his life. Let me say that again, “Altitude triggered”. It isn’t like someone is saying “if you get hit just right, you might black out.” it’s someone saying “if you go to Denver, you can die by simply being in the city.” That is totally different than a player wanting to play hurt or cover up how bad a concussion is. I’ve had concussions, they are horrible, and they really do take a long time to recover from. I remember that for a few months after my big one, any little tap on the crown of my head made me feel like I was gonna lose consciousness. If someone told me that if I drove and got in a car accident, and hit my head just right on the windshield, I’d get another one, I’d still drive to work. If someone said “if you don’t move from Denver, you might die cause your body can’t handle the altitude”, I’d move.

  • King

    I can’t believe how much people are praising Tomlin over this.  The guy can’t play in Denver.  He already lost his spleen, if I remember correctly.  I doubt he would survive if he played here again.  It’s a no-brainer. 

  • Monty

    The issue is that Clark has been cleared to play in Denver by team doctors and Tomlin still errs on the side of caution. It’s rare in the professional sports world — or at least it feels that way.