Just two short days ago while analyzing Ike Taylor's free agent situation, I wrote that I'd yet to hear anything about Swaggin' being all that interested in returning to the Pittsburgh Steeler. Of course, being that I don't know Taylor's inner thoughts, that's not to say I at any time believed that he didn't want to return to the Steelers. Just that I'd yet to hear or read anything from Taylor or his confidantes or teammates about how No. 24 most definitely did want to continue his career with the Steelers.
On Tuesday, Ryan Clark joined The FAN Morning Show on 93.7 for yet another informative, candid and noteworthy interview. (The last time Clark joined the station, he had some extraordinarily interesting and forthright commentary to share about the CBA negotiation process.) This time around, Clark also had a thing or two to say about the negotiation process, though both sides are under strict orders to not provide the media with updates about whatever progress is or is not being made. Instead, Clark spoke candidly about Taylor's situation, which I've transcribed below. As you'll see, Clark doesn't exactly say that Taylor would (or should) be willing to accept too much of a discount to remain in Pittsburgh, just that his preference would definitely be to continue with his close friends and teammates that he's grown close to and accomplished so much with.
On if he's talked to Ike Taylor about his uncertain future with the Steelers:
"Yeah I talked to Ike. The first thing is we're all friends .We're probably better friends than any team I've been on, a closer knit group of guys than any I've been around. So we've spoken and from what I know, he wants to come back. But he's put his work in in Pittsburgh and he needs to be compensated fairly because of that. So whatever happens, it happens. He's a huge part of our defense. And if it was my decision, he'd come back no matter what. But we all know that's not how it works."
Taylor then talked about how Taylor would like to be back in Pittsburgh:
"I think his mindset is he wants to be here first, but after that it's a business. The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to conduct their business, and Ike Taylor also has to conduct his. So we have our fingers crossed hoping that he'll come back."
How a guy like Stanford Routt receiving a $10 million per year contract likely drove up the price for Taylor:
"I think when you look at a situation like a Stanford Routt, I believe if you went around and asked most fans and even most players about this guy or who this guy was, we wouldn't know. but know people know because he's making $10 million dollars a year. And I think Ike Taylor is definitely a better football player than he is, and he's more proven, more experienced, more decorated. So with that, that may have drive the price up for Ike. So we'll see what happens"
Whether there was any feedback from guys like Larry Foote or Bryant McFadden about what life was like away from the Steelers organization:
"I think the biggest thing everybody comes back with is the chemistry, the camaraderie, the fellowship that we guys share. I think for the most part the NFL, you're treated a certain way by different coaches. If you look at Arizona, Coach Whisenhunt where Bryant was, Coach Whisenhunt kind of followed the BC [Bill Cowher] model. He was a very good players' coach, he wasn't going to kill you, so I don't think it was a bad experience for Bryant. Obviously if you look at what Larry did, anytime you don't win very many games, it doesn't matter who you're playing for, it's not going to be a very pleasant experience. I think that was one the one thing that Larry had to endure. So I've been other places, and like I say all the time, the biggest thing about Pittsburgh is the family atmosphere; it's the way that you're treated not so much by the administration, but by the people that you work with day to day. And I'm talking about the players.
Clark then spoke about one aspect of playing for the Steelers that's entirely irreplaceable -- playing for Dick LeBeau:
"And when you speak of leaving Pittsburgh, you're talking about Coach LeBeau. There's no more of those. You know what I mean? There's not going to be another Coach LeBeau. I don't know if God is even making people the way he made Coach LeBeau. So in that sense you lose something."
Clark finished his thoughts by mentioning that above all else, you can't expect a man to not accept a substantially more lucrative deal that will help provide for his family for years to come:
"But it's just tough to tell somebody, hey, don't leave if the money's not the same, if the money's not compatible. It doesn't matter if you're being treated like an angel, if it's going to make that much of a difference in your family's life, sometimes you have to go."
In the final few minutes of the segment, Clark also responded to a fan who had called in after his last appearance to rant and rave about Clark's comments. I thought it might get ugly for a minute, but in the end, Clark kept his cool and offered up an unbelievably well-said and intelligent retort to the woman's aggressive statements. I encourage you to listen if you have the chance. That portion of the interview -- which you can access at the link below -- begins at about the 10:00 minute mark