The 2013 NFL season was not a memorable one for former Pittsburgh Steelers' safety Ryan Clark. Not only did he have an extremely sub par performance on the field, but his actions off the field made matters even worse. Once Clark's comments regarding his teammates using marijuana surfaced, Steelers fans knew the writing was on the wall for Clark's departure.
How Clark will be remembered is still in limbo, and that truly is a shame considering the career he had in Pittsburgh. He was an anchor in the back end of a secondary with the most unpredictable player in Steelers' history, Troy Polamalu.
It was big hit after big hit that Clark delivered that had wide receivers short arming passes thrown their way over the middle. A lot of people, myself included, think that the defenseless receiver rule that was put in place by the NFL eliminated players like Clark and their ability to intimidate through playing physical defense.
Two plays always come to mind when thinking of Clark's time with the Steelers. The first is always the hit on then Baltimore Ravens running back, Willis McGahee in the AFC Championship game in 2009 that caused a fumble and turned the tide of the football game.
The other was earlier that season when the Steelers played in rain soaked Foxborough to face the Patriots. When a Matt Cassel pass sailed high on wide receiver Wes Welker, it was Clark that laid the hit on him that can still be felt in and around the Boston metropolitan area.
That was the kind of player Ryan Clark was. Did he have the best hands? Not even close. Was he the best coverage safety in the league? Not even the best on the team, but one thing he could always do was make that physical play that sent a message to every player on the opposing team.
Clark didn't make any of those plays in 2013. Instead, the jaw rattling hits were replaced by missed tackles and botched assignments. Couple that with the irrational comments off the field, and that is a recipe for disaster. Many Steelers fans have written Clark off for his actions, but lets not forget what he provided this organization during his tenure with the team. Stability, physicality and quality leadership that helped get the Steelers to two Super Bowls and win one. Not too bad at the end of the day.