When I was 6 and 7 years old, I saw the Pittsburgh Steelers win Super Bowls in probably the first football games I ever paid attention to – and have been a lifelong Steelers fan as a consequence. So I was very interested to see this report on Steerlers safety and leading tackler Ryan Clark’s medical condition that makes playing in Denver at a mile of altitude more risky for him than for other players. Last time Clark played in Denver he had complications that led to the removal of his spleen and gall bladder.
It’s definitely more than a football story – it’s medical science, ethics, and a lesson in perspective.
“Looking at data and all the variables he is at more risk, so we’re not going to play him. It’s just that simple,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday, according to CNN affiliate WPXI-TV.
“If he is in any more danger than any of the other 21 men on the field, then we err on the side of caution,” Tomlin said at a news conference.
“It is a big game for us, but it is a game,” he said.
After a 2007 game in Denver, Clark had his spleen and gall bladder removed and lost 30 pounds from sickle cell complications.
But Clark told ESPN he thought he could play in Denver this weekend despite the risks.
“I talked to my doctors and we actually had a plan in place for me to play. All things pointed to me going until (Tomlin) told me I can’t. He said he wouldn’t have let his son play and so I’m not playing either,” Clark told ESPN.
After hearing that, Clark said he couldn’t argue with Tomlin’s decision.
“I appreciate coach caring about me more than this football game,” he said in the ESPN interview.
Classy all around.