Safety Ryan Clark Won’t Play for Steelers Due to Health Risks in Thin Air

Safety Ryan Clark Won't Play for Steelers Due to Health Risks in Thin AirThe Steelers already knew they’d be without leading rusher Rashard Mendenhall for their playoff game Sunday in Denver, but now they’ll be without starting safety Ryan Clark, as well.

Clark, 32, will not play due to a sickle cell trait that becomes dangerous if he exerts himself in the thin Denver air. Coach Mike Tomlin made the announcement on Tuesday after speaking with a team of doctors.

Clark played a game in Denver in 2007, after which he had to have his spleen and gall bladder removed. The Steelers held him out of a game in Denver in 2009 out of concern for his health, but this time around, Tomlin was at least willing to consider letting Clark play.

“Last time we went [to Denver], we worked him out extensively to see how he responded, and they gathered the data in that regard,” Tomlin said on Monday. “So, we’ll put some heads together, and when I’m talking about heads I’m talking about medical experts, not myself.” 

Clark led the Steelers with 100 tackles this season, adding a sack and an interception as well.

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