Steelers FS Ryan Clark is as fearless in giving his opinion as he is hitting opposing receivers.
Tribune-Review reporter Mark Kaboly writes Tuesday Clark is planning to tone down the opinion part this season. Kind of.
Clark, the Steelers' union representative, has been outspoken against the direction of the NFL, in particular, rules regarding contact on receivers. He picked up multiple fines last year, including a $40,000 deduction for a hit on Ravens TE Dennis Pitta. To paraphrase Clark's quote, he wondered aloud whether he should have just "put him to sleep," or taken out his knee, suggesting the NFL isn't giving defensive players much room in which to hit offensive players.
Kaboly quoted Clark:
"The perception of our team was starting to be tainted," Clark said. "It went from us being hard-nosed, tough football players to maybe being dirty and not really caring about rules. That wasn't the case; It was that you were feeling that you were mistreated."
Clark certainly made his stance on the issue clear last year, and it's understandable how defensive players are frustrated over the league's alleged emphasis on player safety, considering it wasn't an issue before Week 6 of the 2010 season. Clark had been a starting safety in the NFL for roughly four seasons by that point.
The league is banking on defensive players in particular becoming more accurate in striking opposing players, and forcing them to recognize a "defenseless" player while in motion. Clark isn't saying anywhere in Kaboly's piece he plans to change the way he plays, but rather, makes suggestion he does not want to draw any more negative attention toward the team.
Outside of that, Clark doesn't say he's going to quiet down. In fact, he says he's still going to be himself.
"I want to focus on football," Clark said. "Our time to win a championship is winding down so I want to put all my focus into that. But I am (still) going to give my opinion.
"There is no situation where I said I am going to shut up. I am going to be me, I am going to speak out and be honest."