Ryan Clark on What Mike Tomlin Said to Him: “I wouldn’t let my son play in this game so I won’t let you”January 5, 2012 – 10:30 am by Chris Fedor
Steelers safety Ryan Clark has been one of the key ingredients to the number one pass defense in the NFL this year. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to play in the Steelers first round playoff game this weekend against the Denver Broncos. It was in 2007, when Pittsburgh traveled to Denver in a regular season game. Following that contest, a sickle cell trait that Clark has caused a variety of health problems. Clark lost his spleen, his gall bladder, and 30 pounds afterwards. He almost died from it and hasn’t played in Denver since. It’s just too risky for him. Even though Clark wants to play and help his team win, Mike Tomlin took the decision out of his hands and told Clark he would sit the game out. That’s what a leader does. This is just another example of why Mike Tomlin is one of the best young coaches in the NFL. While winning a playoff game is extremely important to the Steelers, the safety of his players needs to come first and now it will be up to his teammates to make sure there is a game for Clark to play in next week.
Ryan Clark joined 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh to talk about how surprised he was when Mike Tomlin told him he wasn’t going to play this weekend, what tests he went through before the last Denver game, what his teammates said about him not playing, how he felt the last time after the Denver game, and what he expects from the Denver offense.
How surprised he was when Mike Tomlin told him he wasn’t going to play against Denver:
“I haven’t played the last two times we played there so it wasn’t a total shock. I wanted to play this time moreso because it was the playoffs. Having been cleared by the doctors you feel you can go and you want to help your team win but Coach Tomlin made the decision and when a man comes to and says ‘I wouldn’t let my son play in this game so I won’t let you,’ you have to respect that. He cares about me more than just a player and understands I have a family. It’s still a risk. They’re saying I’m cleared to play but no one can be 100 percent sure so you know I just have to do what I can do to help the team in any way I can. Clearly I’m not gonna be much help by not being able to play but I’ll be there to support them and I’m excited to see Ryan Mundy go out there and play and hopefully we will get the win.”
What tests he had to go through:
“I got cleared the first time we went back which was in ’09. I went through all the tests and actually went out and worked out there. Ran 100’s, did drills, they checked my blood afterwards, and different vital signs just to see how I was affected by it. There was no adverse affect and those types of things but also you can’t simulate 48 minutes of football in a 30 minute pregame warm-up exercise routine. I understood that and knew that part, but I was cleared. Pretty much passed every test they gave me but Coach Tomlin decided it wasn’t worth the risk.”
What his teammates were saying to him about playing:
“Nobody wanted me to play. Not one person. I had not one teammate tell me to play, not one. Troy (Polamalu), the first thing he says to me, because I had what you would probably consider a breakdown for me, I don’t really, I’m not very emotional, and he was like don’t even think about it. He’s like you’re not playing. He’s like don’t even think about playing. Take it as a bye week, get healthy, and we will see you week two. That’s just what it was and they’ve been telling me that every time we’ve played there. These are people I’m friends with, love me, love my family, and they want me to be around. I’m the only crazy one that wanted to play. Everybody else was like it’s not worth. If they were like ‘hey if you go it’s gonna happen again, if they told me there was a high chance it would happen,’ I wouldn’t have wanted to play but when somebody is telling you it’s less than one percent, as a competitor you want to go out and do it but it wasn’t in the cards for me.”
What he was thinking after the first time it happened:
“I just wanted to live at that point. I didn’t really care about playing football. It got to a point where I couldn’t figure it out. I called Dr. Stanley Marks who is a leading hematologist here and I said you have to send me somewhere to get tested. He was in New York and I had seen him twice, he was in new York and I think he need it just to appease me like yeah go in and take the test. He calls two hours later and was like you need to get to the hospital now. He called me Tuesday and said had you not called me you probably wouldn’t have made it through the weekend. That’s just the way it worked out.”
How he expects Ryan Mundy to play in his place:
“First of all, he’s extremely smart. We call him Wonderlic. He got ‘em all right. That’s pretty telling about his intelligence. He’s a bigger guy than me. I think that will be a good thing. Playing against this run first offense, he will be very stout in the run game. I think he’s gonna do a great job. The good thing is he had to step in when Troy went down two games last year. Kansas City this year, Jacksonville this year he got to get some extended time so we’re not just bringing in some guy who has no experience starting back there. This will be the first time he and Troy will be back there as opposed to myself and Ryan but I’m sure they will figure it out. Figure out how to play off each other, where they want to go and how they fit and I think he’s gonna do an amazing job.”
What he thinks of Tim Tebow and the Denver offense:
“No I haven’t but from what I can gather it’s an unorthodox NFL offense. It’s not your typical drop back passer I-Formation offense so it’s something we’re gonna have to be ready to handle. They run the option which is something you don’t see a lot in the NFL. (Host: Why?) Well because you will get your quarterback killed. You run the option and that gives teams opportunities to tee off on your quarterback because there’s a pitch man. When he gets to the pitch man, to bring it to him enough to draw him in to pitch the ball to the running back which gives defensive ends and linebackers an opportunity to hit your quarterback. Also a lot of times the guys they have aren’t option type quarterbacks. Maybe if you get a Cam (Newton) or RG3 (Robert Griffin III), you can get those guys to do that. But you’re not going to draft Andrew Luck number one and say ‘hey Drew I want you to run the option.’ That’s just not an offense that I think is conducive to keeping what is usually your multi, multi, multi million dollar quarterbacks healthy.”