Doctors clear Ryan Clark to play in Denver

The last time safety Ryan Clark played a football game in Denver, he became nearly deathly ill because of how his blood and sickle-cell trait reacted to playing in the thin air.

Clark lost 30 pounds, had his spleen and gall bladder removed, then missed half of the 2007 season.

Clark and the Steelers head to Denver after their bye, and Clark is more than understandably cautious about playing there again.  Doctors have cleared Clark to play, but a final decision has yet to be made about his status.

“I think kind of the competitor in me, the ego of a football player,
it’s not so much I want to go beat the Broncos, as I would like to come
back fully from a situation that brught me near death and kind of
conquer playing in a place that made me ill in that kind of way,” Clark said this week, before noting that he has a family and career to worry about.

Doctors have apparently cleared him, but Clark needs to hear more. 

“I mean, you can hear certain things, they can put papers in front
of you and tests in front of you, but until you’re completely
comfortable with what you’re hearing, it’s going to be a tough decision,” Clark said.  “And right now I haven’t taken in enough information to make a decision either way.”

Clark sacrifices his body every week for the Steelers.  The last time they were in Denver he nearly sacrificed a lot more.  The organization should do him a favor and simply make the decision for him.

14 responses to “Doctors clear Ryan Clark to play in Denver

  1. As a diehard Steeler fan, I say he should not play, and in fact should not even go to Denver considering what happened last time. Ryan Clark doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody. It is only one game and no use taking a chance on him risking his health and/or possibly jeopardizing his season. They got by without Troy and can make due for one game without Ryan. The Steelers will put the best 11 they have on the field on defense and go with it.
    I also agree that the Steelers should make the decision for him and tell him to stay home and get ready for the next game. Be safe and smart Ryan, don’t play.

  2. I am a lifelong Bronco fan also a Steeler fan. I can’t believe anybody in their right mind would even CONSIDER playing this man here in Denver! I mean, my God, you can see what it did to him last time!!!!! Please use your head for once, and consider the health of the player!!!! LEAVE HIM HOME IN PITTSBURGH!!!!!

  3. He should go but not play. Just BEING in the lower-oxygen high-altitude won’t hurt him or affect his red blood cells — just if he plays with the cardiorespiratory exertion needed to play football.

  4. As a lifelong Steelers fan, I give Ryan Clark a pass on this game. We are talking life and death here. He does need to prove anything to anyone. We know what Ryan Clark brings to the field, he needs to make sure that he is around for his family.

  5. I don’t think he has to play to PROVE anything to anybody, but if the doctors say nothing bad will happen by being there and playing. what’s wrong with it? The team has to go with what the doctors say, and if they said it’s not safe, then they shut him down. Since they said it is safe, why would they make the decision for him not allowing him to play?

  6. Agreed, Gregg. Better safe than sorry. Especially when sorry can potentially cost him his life. It’s ONE game. I admire his tenacity but, common sense would have to prevail.

  7. He’s had problems twice before. Once with the Steelers and again when he played for the Redskins. His reaction was much more severe when he played for the Steelers. Admittedly I know nothing about this, but what would be different about this time compared to the last two? How can doctors clear him? I don’t get it. We can do w/o Ryan for a game. His health is much too important. We’ve had Troy out, had Aaron out. It’s a shame we can’t get an entire game with our entire starting defense fielded LOL. I think it will be much easier for Carter/Townshend to fill in for Clark than Troy. Then again part of the reason Troy can be Troy is b/c of the way Ryan plays. I’d rather be safe than sorry though.

  8. No one should be saying that Clark needs to stay in Pittsburgh.
    He can survive in that altitude – a regular airplane cabin is pressurized to roughly 6,900 feet – higher than Denver. Should Clark not travel to any road games, either?
    He’s fine to go to Denver. What got him last time was the altitude in combination with the exertion of playing a 60 minute football game.
    If he’s been cleared to play, he’s certainly fit enough to make the trip – and he should be there to support his team. But he should not play.

  9. The difference between this time and last time is that Ryan Clark has no spleen this time.
    The doctors removed his spleen after the last time he played in Denver.
    Here’s why he should play: The doctors cleared him and he wants to play.
    Pittsburgh could very well have to play in Denver in the playoffs.

  10. I think they should leave him out of this game, it’s just not worth it, like the guy above said, his spleen and gall bladder are gone, what happens if he gets sick again? Come on Tomlin, just tell Ryan, you are too important to this team, thats why you wont be playing. Let him go to the game and watch in streetclothes if the doctors are confident he will be fine, but Im in the camp that says dont even bring him to Denver.

  11. As Gregg stated, the Steelers should take this decision out of Clark’s hands. Players want to play.
    Though not a fan of paternalism, Clark should not be put out there following his prior reactions to exertion at altitude.
    No question. If the Steelers do run Clark out there, win or lose – it will be very very disappointing. These are highly unusual circumstances that involve some history – and Clark’s style of play and character are that of a player who lays it on the line for his teammates, coaches and fans. Check out his hit on McGahee – plus countless other plays he’s nutted up.
    To reiterate – take the decision out of his hands – so that he can lead a good life. Clark has put himself at risk and sacrificed enough already.

  12. mike s says: November 1, 2009 7:51 AM
    The difference between this time and last time is that Ryan Clark has no spleen this time.
    The doctors removed his spleen after the last time he played in Denver.
    Here’s why he should play: The doctors cleared him and he wants to play.
    Pittsburgh could very well have to play in Denver in the playoffs.
    Yeah, and the doctors cleared him to play the last time they went to Denver and he lost two organs because of it.
    Doesn’t matter if he doesn’t have a spleen or not, there are still complications that could arise from exerting himself in a high altitude climate like Denver, including a stroke.
    In a separate article he was quoted as saying that his long time friends wife just recently died from complications with sickle-cell…and I’m sure she wasn’t doing anything as physically taxing as playing in a football game.
    I just think all the signs point in the direction of staying on the sidelines at the most. It’s just not worth the risk. And IMO if it even came down to a playoff game, and we had to play in Denver, I’d still want him to sit the game out…screw what the doctors say, they’ve been wrong with him before.

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