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Ryan Clark named Steelers 2012 Walter Payton Man of the Year

Clark is among 32 other nominees - one per NFL team - in consideration for the 2012 Walter Payton Man of the Year award, a prestigious honor given at each year's Super Bowl.


Steelers safety Ryan Clark turned a near-death experience into something positive.

After suffering nearly fatal injuries due to a blood condition that reacted poorly to high altitudes in 2007. Clark underwent emergency surgery and had his gall bladder and spleen removed.

He and his wife, Yonka, teamed up with the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC to create Ryan Clark's Cure League.

"I didn't just want to lend my name to a cause," he told the team's web site. "I wanted to get involved in a big way." The Cure League raises money for Sickle Cell research, clinical care, and increases awareness about this painful, life-threatening disease.

Clark, unable to play road games in Denver but attends the games including the Steelers 2011 Wild Card round playoff game and the season-opener this year, is having a Pro Bowl level season.

The last Steelers player to win the award was running back Jerome Bettis, who won it in 2001.

Lynn Swann won it in 1981, Joe Greene won it in 1979 and Franco Harris won it in 1976.