Ryan Clark jabs at SpyGate, supports Mike Tomlin

US PRESSWIRE

Steelers free safety Ryan Clark didn't pass up a chance to take a shot at the NFL for burning video evidence used in the Patriots' SpyGate scandal when defending Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who's embroiled in controversy over his actions during a kick return in Week 13.

Steelers safety Ryan Clark made his opinion on the Tomlin Two-Step clear Monday.

Talking with reporters for the first time since the Steelers' loss Thursday in Baltimore, Clark didn't feel his coach made an intentional move to stop Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones from advancing up the sideline.

He did, however, take the opportunity to throw a quiet shot at the NFL's handling of the SpyGate allegations involving the New England Patriots from 2007.

"[Tomlin] was as surprised as anybody that [the play] was right there," Clark said, as quoted here by ESPN's Scott Brown."It's an unfortunate situation. More unfortunate that we have to talk about it, but it's over now. The NFL will do what they have to do. There will be no tapes to burn, so it should be a speedy process."

The NFL conducted its own investigation of the Patriots and accusations they were filming physical communication from the sidelines of opposing teams, and there was an accusation they even had a representative sneak into the practice of the St. Louis Rams before Super Bowl XXXVI to record their activity.

The league fined Patriots coach Bill Belichick $500,000 - the maximum fine that can be issued to a coach - and fined the Patriots $250,000 as well as docking them their first round draft pick in 2008.

The NFL also burned the video footage that was allegedly taken - something many have continued to bring up over the years as an example of the league's active decision to cover up any other taping allegations. It's been said footage existed of similar footage filmed by the Patriots of the Steelers - the team New England defeated 41-27 to advance to the Super Bowl after the 2004 season.

While the league is said to be preparing to dole out punishment to Tomlin and the Steelers, what's unclear is the severity of any alleged sanctions against them. While the situation doesn't involve the high-level coordination and execution of specific rules violations the way SpyGate did, it still could result in a loss of draft picks, based on speculation coming out of the league's office.

It's not as if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell needs precedent to ladle out his version of justice. Howver, Jets defensive line coach Karl Dunbar was given a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty just a few weeks ago for interfering with an official on the white stripe - where Tomlin was during Jones' kick. He didn't receive a fine, and the franchise was not stripped of a draft pick.

Perhaps there is a higher standard for head coaches.

The waiting game will continue, as the Steelers prepare to take on the Miami Dolphins in a key match-up for AFC Playoff positioning.

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