Real Life Decision

The last time Ryan Clark played in Denver, he lost his spleen and gall bladder. He hasn't decided whether he'll try it again Monday night, but he shared some inner thoughts Wednesday with Pittsburgh reporters.

Ryan Clark, free safety, Pittsburgh Steelers

RC: Let the circus begin.

Q: Speaking of the circus, are you going to perform?

RC: We'll see. I've been cleared to play. Everybody knows that. It's still a tough decision. Competitively, in this game everybody has a little bit of ego. I want to go back and play there – not for the sake of really beating the Broncos – and God gets that glory that I've kind of come full circle and I'm able to go there and play. Still a decision between my family and me. The part that makes you mad by not having a decision maybe is the practice time. Obviously the other guys have to get practice if it turns out I don't play, and then if I do play I've cut my practice time in terms of preparation, so that's kind of the unfair thing. But it's a tough decision.

Q: If you don't play, why go to Denver at all?

RC: I've been to Denver though. I've been to Denver, actually had to stay overnight there because of some flight delays. So it's not that I can't go to Denver. Also, if I've been cleared to play and decide not to, I can just stand on the sideline and watch the game. So you all guys won't be able to tell by whether or not I get on the plane. But I want to play, and I've been cleared to play. It's a tough decision, tough to go home and tell your wife that's been worried about you for a year that you're going, and it's tough for me to tell the guys I don't want to play even though I've been cleared. So it's a decision I'm going to make along with my family, and also Coach (Mike) Tomlin. He's going to have the final say on whether he lets me go or not. So we'll do that as soon as possible.

Q: Considering the practice time, is there some urgency for you to make your decision?

RC: No. Nobody's putting any pressure on me, honestly. I think one thing that we can do, other guys can practice more than I can. I'm fine. I'm going to study film. We play this defense every week. I can pretty much wake up and play it without practicing at all. That won't be a problem for me. Other guys need to get the reps in case me and Coach Tomlin go another way from what the doctors said. Other than that, there's no pressure. A lot of my teammates have expressed that no matter what I do, they're going with me. They understand. It's one game. We'll figure it out.

Q: Has there been a doctor who's said ‘It's 100 percent no chance of you having no problem'?

RC: Nobody said it's 100 percent no chance. Obviously, that's what makes the decision my decision. It makes it tough. Medically, they can give their opinion ... but obviously nobody's able to say ‘If you go, you won't get sick at all. We promise you.' That would make it really easy. But you haven't gotten that. And none of them have said ‘If you go you're going to die' either. Though, with those opinions, I spent a month where they couldn't figure out what was wrong with me last time, too. So it's just something you've got to pray about, man, and make the best decision you can.

Q: Can you tell us what your wife thinks about this?

RC: She's actually fine with it. And they're fine. She understands that God brought us out of it and she's been praying on it and she feels she's at peace with it. No matter what I do, she knows I'm coming back home and I'll be coming back home fine. So that's comforting in knowing that, because it'd be hard for me to go play if she told me ‘I don't want you to play.' The decision would be done. If she would've said that two weeks ago, or before the season ‘I don't want you playing,' we wouldn't be having this conversation. I would really love to give you guys an answer so we don't have to do this every day the rest of the week, and I want it to be done. I really do.

Q: Why are you waiting?

RC: In the end, even if I say, ‘Yeah I'm going,' Coach Tomlin could say, ‘You know what, it's not worth it. We don't want to risk it.' So I think where it seems that it's all my decision, it's not. Obviously they can't force me to play, but they can make the decision that I don't. So I think, with all of those things –

Q: So, it's Tomlin who's waiting?

RC: No. I didn't say that. First of all, I won't let you all put words in my mouth because we'll stop this. I know y'all think I'm cool with y'all, but let me say what I'm going to say. Don't say ‘so and so.' Don't do that. I don't deserve that from y'all. I respect you all. Respect me. What I said was that I can't be forced to play, but if I decide to play and Coach Tomlin feels like there's no need or he's not comfortable with it, he does have the right to tell me I can't play. So it's not Coach Tomlin's decision. Obviously, it's going to be mine. But he is the head coach of this football team and he will have his input.


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