During the loss to the New York Jets last Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark was penalized 15 yards for his hit on Jets receiver Braylon Edwards. The penalty set up the only offensive touchdown of the game by the Jets as they went on to defeat the Steelers 22-17.
It's not surprising Steelers' fans and players were upset by the call. I thought the play deserved a flag based on the current rules. I just thought that the official called the wrong penalty. He flagged Clark for helmet to helmet contact, but there was no helmet-helmet contact. Clark did "launch" himself at Edwards, which is currently against the rules.
In the Pittsburgh Tribune Review today, Clark talked about the possibility of getting a fine and what he thought of the call.
"I didn't hit him in the helmet," Clark said. "There wasn't any head-to-head contact. My arms are actually in front of me, and if I can't do that then I can't play football."
"No, I'm not, and I will be (ticked) off if I get it," Clark said. "It's Christmas, man. There is a picture of it in the hallway, so if I do get one I am going to hold up a picture to my face so the NFL can clearly see it."
"Ten out of 10 times I'll do the same thing," Clark said. "Running up and hugging him or waiting for him to get on the ground and jumping on his back is not going to give me the opportunity to dislodge the ball. That is what it is coming to now. Any hard hit and anything like that they are going to throw the flag and say it's not (a penalty) later."
"How about it goes to families and these kids who won't have insurance after the March deadline?" Clark said. "You want to take money and give it here and give it there, but how about us having no insurance? Families of five? Three kids? Put money there and take it when it is supposed to be taken."
Now, I've been an avid supporter of the Steelers and I even wrote that the Steelers are getting picked on by the league. That being said, I can not side with Clark on this one. The current rules say that you can not "launch yourself" at offensive players, which Clark obviously did.
The only problem I have with the NFL is that they should have waited until the offseason to change the rules. It's not fair to the players and to the fans to drastically change the rules and the way the game is played in the middle of the season.
I also am very disappointed in what Clark had to say about the fines not going to charity. Players in the NFL might have union problems, but Clark and his peers still get paid millions of dollars to play football. Sorry if some of us do not sympathize with you about losing a few thousand dollars.
I like Clark as a player and a person, but when he says stupid things like he did today, it becomes hard to defend him. The more Clark and the Steelers speak out against the rules, the more the NFL is going to keep a close eye on them.