Steelers safety Ryan Clark said yesterday he has been "cleared by doctors" but remains unsure whether he will play in Denver a week from tomorrow.
"Basically, I've been cleared by all the doctors, but the decision still hasn't been made," Clark said during an ESPN Radio 1250 interview. "We still have time. Obviously, it's a Monday night game, so it's a long way from now."
Clark has sickle-cell trait, and his blood reacted so poorly in the exertion of playing in the thin Denver air with the Steelers in 2007 that he became almost deathly ill after the game. He wound up having his spleen and gall bladder removed, lost 30 pounds and missed the second half of the 2007 season.
He has been consulting with his doctors about whether he can play in Denver again. He said he will practice all week and, at some point, decide whether to play.
"Coach and I have talked about it, the doctors talked about it, my wife and I. We'll figure it out," Clark said in the radio interview. "I'll be there either way. I'll be at the game. When the decision is made, I'll let coach decide when to tell the media and everybody whether or not I'm going to play, and I'm going to kind of stay out of it from that standpoint, but I will make the decision."
Clark gave no hint what that decision might be.
"If we find out there is a risk, then I'm not going to play. Unless I can be told, 'Hey, you're fine, there's nothing going to happen to any other organs,' then I'm going to play, I'll go try to hurt people and have a great time.
"But, if there are any unsure moments about it, I'll sit on the sidelines and wear a hat and coach."
Clark gave an interesting reason why he wants to play in Denver.
"It's not excruciating from a point that, if I don't play, my life will be over. It is one football game. It's not so much I want to go beat the Broncos, as I would like to come back fully from a situation that brought me near death and kind of conquer playing in a place that made me ill in that kind of way. But you have to take yourself out of it from that standpoint, realize you do have children, you do have a life and you have a career that you would like to be long."
While he said doctors may have cleared him, they still have not done so to his satisfaction.
"That's understanding the situation enough to know nothing's going to happen to me," Clark explained. "I mean, you can hear certain things, they can put papers in front of you and tests in front of you, but, until you're completely comfortable with what you're hearing, it's going to be a tough decision. I haven't taken in enough information to make a decision."