Maybe all the hits Ryan Clark has taken to the head have finally come full-circle. I find it amazing how he continues to defend some teammates yet is nowhere to be found when it comes to defending others. It’s becoming a never-ending trend for Clark and frankly it’s becoming nauseating.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are starting to remind me more and more of a sad reality show and a local journalist isn’t exactly helping. Over the last 24 hours, Pittsburgh Post Gazette writer Ron Cook quoted an ‘anonymous’ player regarding LaMarr Woodley. The statement attributed to said player was “He was awful. He tells us he works out, but we didn’t see it. He wasn’t in shape. That has to be a reason why he was always hurt.”
Now I’m no journalist like Mr. Cook is. I’m just one of a gazillion bloggers with a laptop and an opinion that is basically hated by the ‘actual’ journalists out there. That’s OK, I won’t lose any sleep over it. One thing I know for sure though is I’m not going to use anything from a player who won’t put his name to statements criticizing a fellow player. It’s bush-league as far as I’m concerned and is done for no other reason than to get people talking and idiots like me writing.
Shame on Cook and shame on the unnamed player.
Did unnamed player speak the truth regarding Woodely? Damn right he did. Woodley seems far more interested in off-field interests like magazine covers and owning bowling teams than he does in playing to a high level. I get it though. It’s a new era in professional sports and players are pushed to take on every opportunity there is for exposure and money. I don’t like it, but I understand it.
So of course this morning, the self-appointed leader of the Steelers Ryan Clark took to the airwaves to discuss the issue. Whether Clark was sought out to speak or whether he volunteered really doesn’t matter but I find Clark’s coming out of the woodwork a bit interesting.
Let’s recall that right after the season Clark, an avid Twitter user, deleted his account to focus on the other things. He clearly was tired of dealing with a lot of people out there who say some pretty stupid stuff behind their twitter muscles. I don’t blame him, but he knows the game and shouldn’t have engaged in social media in the first place. Far more harm than good comes from it for professional athletes in my opinion.
I’ve had several discussions with people today over whether Clark was being a ‘leader’ by going public to discuss what the unnamed player had said. I would say there were definitely people on both sides. I say, Clark apparently has selective memory and was doing this for no other reason than to further his post-football career.
A real leader doesn’t take an already troubling issue and make it worse by discussing it publicly. A leader gets on the phone and starts calling. He calls guy after guy to find out who is taking team business outside the locker room. Perhaps Clark felt by going public with his thoughts that the ‘anonymous’ player would be pressured into coming forward and maybe he’s right but I still don’t like it.
I find it interesting that Clark never came to the defense of Ben Roethlisberger when he was being slammed by teammates like Hines Ward and Jerome Bettis following his personal issues and the like. Clark more recently came to the defense of Ray Lewis and tried to actually defend Lewis but would never defend his own teammate in Roethlisberger. Lewis and Roethlisberger are actually friends but I don’t recall Roethlisberger going over to the Ravens’ locker room after a game though as Clark did this season.
I love Ryan Clark as a player. There are few guys tougher and more resilient than Clark has been on the field, but Clark’s off-field comments are misguided, immature and reek of the problems that are plaguing this locker room.
Leaders in the game of football keep their issues in-house. Yes, the unnamed player is the one who started this mess and bears heavy responsiibility as does Woodley, but Clark is the one who made this bigger than it needed to be. Clark became a complete and total hypocrite when it comes to defending teammates and any doubt to the contrary should now be erased.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.