The decision, Mike Tomlin said, was an “easy” one.
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark will not play in the team’s wild-card playoff game against the Broncos in Denver because athletic exertion at a high altitude adversely affects a medical condition that Clark has.
“I met with him and informed him I am not going to allow him to play in the game,” Tomlin said. “It was an easy decision for us. When looking at all of our data, we came to the determination he is at more risk so we are not going to play him. It's that simple.”
Clark has sickle cell trait, a condition that caused serious problems for him when the Steelers played in Colorado in 2007. Because his major organs were deprived of oxygen, Clark ended up losing his spleen and gall bladder. When the Steelers played in Denver in 2009, Tomlin did not allow him to play.
The Steelers play Tim Tebow and the Broncos in an AFC wild-card game at 4:30 p.m. EST Sunday (CBS).
Tomlin stressed Sunday night that Clark would be evaluated by medical personnel and that the decision would not be made by coaches. “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 Sunday. “So we’ll put some heads together, and when I’m talking about heads I’m talking about medical experts, not myself.”
The Steelers also will be without running back Rashard Mendenhall. Unlike Clark, he is lost for the rest of the playoffs, though. he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Cleveland Browns.
Just wild: Tebow advances to the playoffs