In the wake of the news the Steelers had signed safety Mike Mitchell in free agency, Ryan Clark tweeted his congratulations to both Mitchell and the Steelers. He also bid what appears to be his final farewell.
Congrats to Mike Mitchell and the Pittsburgh Steelers!! It has been a pleasure playing for 1 of the best organizations in sports!! God bless— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) March 11, 2014
Clark has been a staple of the Steelers secondary since he himself was signed as a Free Agent in 2006. For the last seven years he formed a potent one-two combo with Troy Polamalu, and helped lead the Steelers to two Super Bowls. Clark will be remembered for his sound leadership, his skills as a safety, but most of all his fierce hits. Not many laid the wood like Ryan Clark.
Free Agency Coverage
Free Agency Coverage
His future had been in doubt all offseason, and with his declining play over the course of the 2013 season it was expected that the Steelers would not make any attempt to bring him back for another season. With this tweet, Clark seems to be acknowledging his time with the Steelers, and potentially pro football is up. Whether he wants to continue playing is unknown, but it appears certain he will eventually end up as an on-screen analyst for ESPN, either this year or the next, a role in which he will no doubt flourish.
It really is a classy move by Clark, not only to give thanks to the Steelers organization, but also congratulating both them and Mike Mitchell for essentially replacing him. However, nothing less should be expected. Clark has shown nothing but poise and loyalty to the Steelers in his career - a respected leader and captain among his teammates, and favorite of the fans.
It is in a sense poetic, Clark bidding farewell to the Steelers whilst passing the torch on to his successor. Steelers fans can only hope that Mitchell can give half as much as what Clark has done these past seven years. There are big shoes to fill.
Number 25 will be sorely missed in the Black and Gold.