It was life and death for Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark in 2007 after he played a football game in Denver which sits at 5,280 feet above sea level.
Clark has a sickle cell trait that is exacerbated high altitude. In 2007, Clark felt sick after the Broncos won 31-28 and had to have his spleen and gall bladder removed. He missed the rest of the 2007 season.
Clark desperately wanted to play in last season’s playoff game, but head coach Mike Tomlin would not allow it. It should come as no surprise then that Clark will be held out of Sunday night’s contest. Clark will travel with the team, however.
Clark is also offering his support to increasing awareness and improving treatment for sickle cell. On Tuesday, he will introduce Ryan Clark’s Cure League in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Vascular Medicine Institute and the Institute for Transfusion Medicine, where former Pitt and Chicago Bears alumnus Jim Covert is CEO. The initiative aims to raise awareness, donations and support that will lead to better care and, ultimately, find a cure for this inherited blood disorder. - Stephania Bell (ESPN)
Ryan Mundy is expected to take Clark’s place. Mundy replaced Clark last January and forced a couple of fumbles.
Clark led the team in 2011 with 100 tackles.