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Hines Ward: Ryan Clark shouldn't play in Denver

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark has the sickle-cell trait, and the last time he played at the altitude of Denver, it almost cost him his life. Clark got so sick that he lost 30 pounds, had to have his spleen and gall bladder removed, and couldn’t play for the rest of the season.

Now the Steelers are preparing to play at Denver again, and Steelers receiver Hines Ward has a simple message for Clark: Don’t play.

“I know he wants to be out there but life is way more precious than football,” Ward said, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When football ends, you can still go on and have a productive life. What Ryan went through the last time he was there, to see him lose his spleen and to come to find out it was because of the Denver trip … if it were me, I wouldn’t play. It’s not even a question. But I can’t speak for somebody else. I don’t know how he and his family feel about the situation.”

That’s a sensible attitude, and it means a lot coming from Ward, one of the league’s toughest players. But will Clark heed the warning and skip the game at Denver?

Clark declined to say on Monday whether he’ll play against the Broncos, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin would say only that he and Clark would make the decision together. It’s possible that Clark has already decided whether he’ll play, and, as J.J. Cooper of FanHouse noted, the delay in announcing whether Clark will play could simply be a matter of the Steelers not wanting to tip their hands to the Broncos.

But whatever ends up happening with Clark in Denver, the mere fact that he would consider returning to the field where he suffered such severe health problems is a stark reminder of the way professional football players routinely put their bodies on the line.

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29 Responses to “Hines Ward: Ryan Clark shouldn't play in Denver”
  1. Lombardi 6 says: Nov 3, 2009 1:03 PM

    I love Clark..One of the hardest hitters in the League—but u shouldnt go anywhere near Denver..

  2. smo05d says: Nov 3, 2009 1:09 PM

    I love Ryan Clark and think he’s a great player.
    But he should not play.
    I’d rather have him definitively for the rest of the season and, God willing, all of the post-season, than risk a possible relapse should he play in Denver. It’s just not worth it.

  3. milehiclown says: Nov 3, 2009 1:10 PM

    MDS: you summon up ZERO sympathy from this reader on this point: “a stark reminder of the way professional football players routinely put their bodies on the line.”
    Add the qualifier: for oodles of cash. According to many sources, Clark “signed for $7 million, including a $1.65 million bonus. ”
    It is one thing for a police officer or health-care giver to work in dangerous situations for unfair salaries. It is quite another to get paid millions of dollars to play a game.
    Anybody who would risk death for football is an idiot.

  4. elduderino13 says: Nov 3, 2009 1:11 PM

    Hard to imagine that he’s really considering playing, or that Tomlin wouldn’t just take the decision out of his hands and tell him he can’t play.

  5. Citizen Strange says: Nov 3, 2009 1:12 PM

    PFT called this a few days ago. Take the decision out of Clark’s hands and just say he’s not going and that’s it.

  6. Dude17 says: Nov 3, 2009 1:13 PM

    I corrected the last sentence for you…
    “…a stark reminder of the way professional football players stupidly put their bodies on the line.”

  7. ravensos says: Nov 3, 2009 1:14 PM

    im the biggest steeler hater there is.. but clark.. u gotta sit this one out.. nobody will think less of you.

  8. topcide says: Nov 3, 2009 1:20 PM

    reasons like this are why the NFL should have a independent board of physicans instead of team docters that have a conflict of interest.

  9. PervyHarvin says: Nov 3, 2009 1:29 PM

    Cops,soldiers,and firemen put it on the line for chump change compared to NFL players. It is what they do. That is why they are heroes. Football is a game. It is for our entertainment. To knowingly risk life for it is not heroic or to be admired. That would be called a dumb ass. No sympathy from me if he played and tragedy struck. Ward speaks the truth.

  10. bearsrule says: Nov 3, 2009 1:33 PM

    The player shouldn’t even be allowed to make the decision. The Steelers ought to tell him he isn’t playing. Period.

  11. The Coop says: Nov 3, 2009 1:39 PM

    Life is more precious than football?
    Try telling that to Steeler fans who threw garbage on Tommy Maddox’s lawn after a bad game, made death threats against the woman who collided with Big Ben’s motorcycle and the one he (allegedly) sexually assaulted, and frequently use homophobic slurs when talking about Kordell Stewart.

  12. MitchBergerSaysKissTheRingBitch says: Nov 3, 2009 1:43 PM

    I love Ryan Clarke like a son and don’t want to see his insides explode because of a football game. Plus, Ryan Clarke missing one game > Tyrone Carter starting the rest of the season because Clarke died taking an INT to the house.

  13. slutnuts says: Nov 3, 2009 1:46 PM

    i know cops, soldiers etc put their bodies in harms way for chump change, while nfl players receive king’s ransoms, but the reason that is, is because people pay to watch the nfl. what we need is some forum on which to watch police, and soldiers do their thing. i’d gladly pay to watch that, which would increase their salary.
    also it would be a shame for clark to miss a playoff game if denver were to host pittsburgh in the playoffs.

  14. YOU'VE_BEEN_MOSSED says: Nov 3, 2009 1:47 PM

    I really don’t like Clark and I think he’s a big mouth, head-hunting, cheapshot artist, but he needs to sit this one out. WTF is the team thinking bout when they leave the decision in his hands? It’s not worth the risk.

  15. SlipperyPete says: Nov 3, 2009 1:51 PM

    Maybe they already made the decision he will play, and they don’t want to let it out and turn it into a big, distracting story all week. Though it could become that anyway.

  16. grannyvi says: Nov 3, 2009 2:02 PM

    He shouldn’t play, plain and simple. I totally agree with Hines Ward and the posters on this.
    Not only that, but the Steelers need to remember that the family of Korey Stringer took the Vikings to court when he dropped dead during training camp in hot, humid conditions.
    If the Steelers allow Clark to play in Denver — fully knowing that the previous time he did so cost him his spleen and gall bladder — they should expect to hear from Clark’s family attorney in the event he suffers further damage this time around.
    Just FYI….

  17. Adam-Chris Scheftersen says: Nov 3, 2009 2:03 PM

    How will the injury report read?
    Doubtful
    Clark – altitude

  18. Adam-Chris Scheftersen says: Nov 3, 2009 2:07 PM

    AFC North teams: You should all take a cue from Andy Dufresne and begin dumping dirt onto your field by the pocketful. Do it often enough and maybe Clark won’t be able to play at your stadium either.

  19. LebronJeremy says: Nov 3, 2009 2:08 PM

    Doctors basically cleared him; his spleen can’t explode this time because it’s not there. But I still think he should sit. I’m pretty sure he just doesn’t want to give up the info to Denver.

  20. Kevin from Philly says: Nov 3, 2009 2:34 PM

    Slutnuts,
    They already have something like that – a show about cops called, well, “Cops”. To my knowledge, the guys that appear on the show get no extra compensation besides a little face time on national TV. There also used to be a show called “America’s Bravest” about firemen. Cancelled after one season for low ratings (in fairness, the show usually consisted of a bunch of guys talking for twenty minutes with a few scenes of guys hosing down trash fires). There’s a reason the NFL gets rating: it’s interesting to watch.

  21. PervyHarvin says: Nov 3, 2009 2:49 PM

    slutnuts says: i know cops, soldiers etc put their bodies in harms way for chump change, while nfl players receive king’s ransoms, but the reason that is, is because people pay to watch the nfl. what we need is some forum on which to watch police, and soldiers do their thing. i’d gladly pay to watch that, which would increase their salary.
    ————————————————–
    While I think you are being positive in attempt to get cops and soldiers more pay, they would never show how war is fought now,trust me. As far as police, don’t we have Cops show? LOL Didn’t do much for them.

  22. Slow Joe says: Nov 3, 2009 3:13 PM

    So what happens if the Broncos host a playoff game? What if Denver hosts a Super Bowl?
    Yeah, I know, the idea of the NFL playing a Super Bowl in three feet of snow is pretty unrealistic, but still, it’s an odd situation when you have a player that supposedly cannot play in one of the NFL’s 32 stadiums.

  23. Vox's Mommy says: Nov 3, 2009 3:13 PM

    You’ve been Mossed….
    First off….what a horrible screen name.
    Second….Ryan Clark is not a loud mouth in any way shape or form. I don’t know where you’re coming up with that….seriously. Don’t make things up, which you know is exactly what you’re doing in this case. And a safety is a cheap shot artist and a head hunter b/c he owns the middle? You don’t want your receiver or RB to get his head taken off don’t throw the ball over the middle when Ryan Clark is sitting there, makes enough sense to me. The middle of that field is his house, Ryan don’t like it when people arrive uninvited. YOU WISH you had Clark on your team.
    Let me guess…the hit on Welker was cheap? The hit on McGahee was cheap? The hit on Harvin was cheap? The hit on Lendale White in game #1 this year was cheap?
    Get over it. The hits on Welker and Mcgahee were absolutely amazing. The hit on Harvin was hard, and he stopped White dead in his tracks with a nasty hit on a 3rd down run in the first game. I love this guy…having said that, I think Ty Carter needs to go here….and I really think that will be the case.

  24. crex43 says: Nov 3, 2009 3:41 PM

    Funny how Hines Ward seems to have a new found respect for other players’ lives outside football. Maybe he should think about that before he leads with his helmet on another block.

  25. Scoop says: Nov 3, 2009 3:50 PM

    Growing up above Denver altitude wise, it used to be comical watching hunters get pee-on-themselves hammered on a fraction of the booze they knew they could handle back home. What wasn’t funny was hearing about people die because of physiology, genes and altitude– and doing far less than Clark would be asked to do on Monday. I personally know one person that can’t go west of Denver. The reason: after almost dying on his first venture into the mountains he was assured by Doctors that he wouldn’t have the same problem again. That earned him an urgent ride on a flight-for-life chopper. For him, just a 3,000 foot change in altitude was too much, even though he was perfectly acclimated to a mile high. Ryan Clark is thinking of testing 5,280 feet from somewhere close to 0– and exerting himself beyond the pale. Its insane.
    The Steelers are a class organization, so I continue to hope that this is gamesmanship and not a serious contemplation of allowing a player to take a senseless risk. This isn’t Rome, circa the age of Christ. Let’s pretend we’ve evolved a little.

  26. footballrulz says: Nov 3, 2009 4:44 PM

    Surely the decision has already been made that he’s not going..Hopefully just keeping it a secret for that Ol’ “competitive adantage”.
    Nice Shawshank reference there Adam.

  27. jimbobillybob says: Nov 3, 2009 5:27 PM

    I think Dick Lebeau said it best, “I wouldn’t ask these guys to do anything I wouldn’t ask my son to do.” He won’t play, it’s just a poker game between Tomlin and the Donkeys.

  28. Steelers4Life says: Nov 4, 2009 4:29 PM

    Adam-Chris Scheftersen says: November 3, 2009 2:03 PM
    How will the injury report read?
    Doubtful
    Clark – altitude
    ————————————-
    He actually hasn’t (and doesn’t need to be) put on the injury report, since he isn’t injured. They are just trying to decide whether or not to dress him for the game and put him on the roster.

  29. steelerforlife says: Nov 5, 2009 6:38 PM

    I’ve been a Steeler fan for 40 years, and no one wants to beat denver more than me. But Ryan should not play. But to all who write in this spot and call Ryan an idiot, or and ass, if he plays, you are the idiot and the ass, because you are haters of the fact that these players make more money than you. Why be so negative, show some compassion.
    I love you Ryan.
    Steeler for life

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