I’m just going to go ahead and get this out of the way. I’m old school. I’ve had my face mask grabbed by coaches. I’ve done suicides on a basketball court to the point of vomiting and I also learned valuable lessons about being a teammate, a leader and putting things other than myself first.
Obviously this is the reason I struggle so much with the majority of today’s athletes who seem far more interested in promoting themselves than they do their team. Such is the way now in the world of free agency and social media.
Therefore, I shouldn’t be upset by Ryan Clark, safety of the Pittsburgh Steelers, constantly trying to get his face on television up at the Worldwide Leader of Self-Promotion, errrrrrr, Sports. If anything, Clark should be praised for his upfront personality and his honesty about what he dreams of doing in his post-football career but to what length?
Clark is spending this week in front of many cameras and microphones whether on different ESPN programs or on ESPN Radio. According to a piece by SI.com’s Richard Deitsch, Clark has literally been begging ESPN for a chance to intern with them according to the article.
Deitsch goes on to explain that Clark and his wife DVR all of his television appearances and then go back over them to look for things he can improve upon.
While I appreciate the hard work and time and effort he is putting into his craft as a future analyst for the league in which he now plays, I do have one criticism that I hope he takes to heart.
Did Clark learn nothing from his other appearances on the mother ship where he essentially threw teammates under the bus? Apparently not because he’s at it again as he puts his future career ahead of the one he currently has.
In one of his many appearances this week, Clark called out Tom Brady by suggesting that Brady “sees ghosts” when defenses jam his receivers and cause him to have to look for second, third and fourth options. Clark isn’t wrong either and I credit him for that. Brady’s completion percentage drops significantly when he has to hold the ball for more than three seconds and his sack numbers jump considerably.
Clark also called out Wes Welker’s replacement Danny Amendola by calling him “fragile.” True enough because Amendola has struggled with injuries in his career. I’ll give Clark this; he does his homework and he gets things correct.
My question however is why does Clark feel the need to poke the sleeping bear? Has Tom Brady been as good as he was four or five years ago? No, but he is still a top five QB. Why add fuel to the fire when Clark and his teammates have to go into New England this year? Let’s hope Clark’s comments aren’t as recalled by Brady as much as Anthony Smith’s were several years ago.
Clark wasn’t exactly done showing his TV potential though.
He went on to call his defensive back-field mate Troy Polamalu the “third-best safety in football.” I can’t argue with that. In fact, Polamalu might even be lower than that right now considering his age and injuries in recent years. Yet again I ask however, why would you say something about a teammate that comes off less than positive even if it is true?
Because that’s what good football analysts do. They tell the truth. The difference for Ryan is that those analysts he is so desperate to be like say these types of things when their careers are over. Not while they are still playing. This way, there are little or no repercussions.
I applaud the way Ryan Clark plays the game of football and I have great respect for him being so focused on a career after he is done playing. My old school mentality however cannot stand his need for attention and his penchant for throwing teammates under a bus and then disrespecting opposing players. Especially when you are scheduled to play them this year!
Maybe Mean Joe Greene did walk away this week because of his dislike for this ‘me-first’ mentality by today’s players as has been reported. Greene wasn’t always perfect either but I guarantee he wasn’t worried about being on television during the off-season.
By showing more interest in ESPN than his current career as a Pittsburgh Steeler, Clark has now upped the ante in terms of his play. Steelers’ fans will not hesitate to call him out if he doesn’t play well so he better be ready to back it up.
Of course Clark is used to this “called out” thing since he does it so well himself.
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.