Ryan Clark Wanted to Play in Denver but Mike Tomlin Won’t Let Him
Mike Tomlin has confirmed once again why he is my favorite coach in the NFL. The Steelers are playing the Broncos in Denver Sunday for the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Putting aside that it’s utterly asinine for a 12-4 team to face an 8-8 team on the road, the real issue is that safety Ryan Clark will not travel with the team because of a health concern.
Clark has a sickle cell trait that is affected in high altitudes. He had to be rushed to the hospital during a 2007 game in Denver and had his spleen and gallbladder removed. Despite the serious nature of his condition, he wanted to play in the playoff game but coach Tomlin wouldn’t let him.
“I mean, everybody knows I want to play and I would have played,” Clark told ESPN. “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 tweeted a similar sentiment later on Tuesday.
“On this treatment table thinking about the game,” he wrote. “Thinking of how blessed I am to still be here & how Id play if I Muke T would let me. Mike Tomlin is without a doubt one of the best most unique head coaches ever. I’d run through a wall for him. Great coach, better man!”
If you think this was an easy call for Tomlin, think again. Clark is the team’s leading tackler. He says they had a medical plan in place for him to play. Most coaches would have let the player assume the health risk and told him the team needed him on the field. Rather than looking out for his job, and the team’s success, Tomlin is looking out for his player’s best interest. He’ll probably be rewarded for doing the right thing.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that this wouldn’t be an issue if the NFL’s seeding system weren’t out of whack?