The Pittsburgh Steelers have a playoff date with Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Safety Ryan Clark would figure to be a key component in stopping the highly-ranked running attack, including Tebow, of the home team. But Clark has a history at Mile High; one that very nearly cost him his career and threatened his life.
In 2007, Clark was rushed to a hospital mid-game when a lack of oxygen to his major organs caused him to become violently ill. His spleen and gallbladder were removed. The hard-hitting Safety suffers from sickle cell trait, which can cause severe complications to the body during extreme exercise conditions and hypoxia in high altitudes.
The Steelers have played in Denver twice since Clark's recovery, once in both 2009 and 2010. An otherwise healthy Clark was benched in both cases for his own sake. While the playoff stakes are high, Clark's physical well being is more precious.
"We're going to meet with the doctors at some point [today] or Tuesday," Tomlin told reporters. "Last time we went [to Denver], we worked him out extensively to see how he responded, and they gathered the data in that regard. So, we'll put some heads together, and when I'm talking about heads I'm talking about medical experts, not myself."
Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark share an extensive knowledge of the defense and each others' tendencies. Clark regularly covers for Polamalu when he ad-libs to make the big play. Ryan Mundy would start in Clark's place.
Ryan Clark is extensively involved in sickle cell research and awareness, most notably with the Children's Sickle Cell Foundation in Pittsburgh.