PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When the Steelers take the field at Mile High Stadium Sunday, they will do so without starting safety Ryan Clark.

Back in 2007 when the Steelers played the Broncos in Denver, Clark’s sickle cell trait caused him to become ill because of the high altitude.

As a result, Clark had his spleen and gallbladder removed and it ended his season.

Since that game, Clark has not played in Denver when the Steelers returned in 2009 and 2010.

Steelers team doctors cleared Clark to play on Sunday, but during his weekly press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin put the speculation to rest.

“But again it was really kind of an easy decision for us,” Tomlin said. “If he’s in any more increased danger than any of the other 21 men on the field during the course of a football game, then of course, we were going to err on the side of caution.”

“We’re looking at all our data and all the variables in this equation,” he continued. “We came to the determination that he is at more risk, so we’re not going to play him.”

During “The Ryan Clark Show” on 93-7 The Fan, Clark said he understands Tomlin’s decision.

“You want to help your team win, but Coach Tomlin made the decision and when a man comes to you and says, ‘I wouldn’t let my son play in this game, so I won’t let you,’ you have to respect that. You know, he cares about me more than just a player, he understands I have a family and it’s still a risk.”

Pittsburgh Steelers
National Football League
National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute: Q&A About Sickle Cell Trait

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