The Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Denver Broncos in their first game of the season on Sunday night, and they have listed safety Ryan Clark as ineligible to play. Team doctors cite Denver’s high altitude as the reason for Clark’s absence.
Head coach Mike Tomlin also chose to leave Clark off the roster during his teams season-ending playoff run in Denver last season. Clark carries the sickle cell trait, which can cause medical issues at high altitudes.
Tomlin on Tuesday announced:
“That has been our position in the past and will continue to be our position. Ryan understands that and is supportive of that. I am sure he will be a big supporter of his teammates, not only in the stadium this week but in preparation. He always has been that guy and I expect that to continue.”
The genetic trait creates an abnormality which can ultimately affect red blood cells. The team keeps Clark out of Denver games after a 2007 appearance caused check pain on his left side. Clark eventually lost his spleen and gall bladder.
Clark will still travel with the team but will sit out Sunday night and will not dress for the game.
In the meantime, the missed game has given Ryan Clark the chance to announce Ryan Clark’s Cure League, which has partnered with the University of Pittsburgh’s Vascular Medicine Institute and the Institute for Transfusion Medicine. The program hopes to raise awareness about the disease and raise money for treatments and ultimately a cure for sickle cell.
Is benching Ryan Clark over his genetic disorder the responsible move for the Pittsburgh Steelers to make?