They say the true test of a person’s character is how they handle adversity. Anybody can ride the wave when things are good, it’s how you deal with the bad times that test your mettle. With the Pittsburgh Steelers experiencing a collapse of historic proportions, we’re finally starting to learn which players are stand up guys and which ones are dicks. Yesterday, starting safety Ryan Clark unleashed a 12 minute rant which will live in Pittsburgh sports infamy while earning him a permanant place in Camp Asshat.
Where to begin with this idiocy. First of all, I’m sick and tired of the “You never played so you don’t know anything” excuse pro athletes use whenever somebody dares to criticize them. The late Bill Walsh was one of the most revolutionary minds in the history of pro football. He invented the West Coast offense and coached the 49ers to three Super Bowls. I dunno how he could accomplish all that since he never played one down of NFL football.
I understand Clark’s point about assigning blame. I don’t have a copy of the Steelers playbook so I don’t know exactly where every player should be on every play. I’m sure sometimes I blame the wrong person for messing up. However, when the EXACT same players are consistently in the vicinity of bad things happening, that has to be more than a coincidence. And I don’t think I need a playbook to recognize when a receiver drops a catchable pass or a defensive player misses a tackle.
The rest of the rant is petty bullshit. Posting angry fan mail on the team bulletin board? If this team needs negativity from Steeler Nation to inspire it to play hard, there is something seriously wrong. A hastily scribbled note from some dopey yinzer saying the defense stinks set him off? The last time a note set me off, I was at Haine Elementary School and Nikki Clinton sent me an unflattering message about my British Knights. Nice to know Clark has the maturity level of a nine year old.
And calling the local media overly negative and comparing Pittsburgh sports writers to Philadelphia’s is laughable. First of all, our journalists don’t write in crayon because this city actually has a literacy rate above 25%. Secondly, those “loyal fans” were ready to run Andy Reid and Donavan McNabb out of town last season because they’ve only lead that pathetic franchise to their most successful era ever. And finally, maybe the media and fans are more forgiving of a blown coverage or two because the Iggles HAVEN’T LOST FIVE GAMES IN A ROW.
If anything, the Pittsburgh sports media routinely acts like the unofficial P.R. agency for the Steelers. One of the reasons Steeler fans (and I’m guilty of this myself) have an annoying habit of treating the team like it’s the most honorable franchise in all of sports and the players are all men of impeccable character is because the media goes out of their way to portray them that way. Heaven forbid anybody criticize the Black and Gold or paint their players in a negative light. Sure they cover stories they have to cover, like Skippy Reed‘s assaulting a towel dispenser or Big Ben (allegedly) getting all rapey with a cowgirl in Vegas, but most of the time you’d think the saints play in Pittsburgh, not New Orleans. And again, if the media has turned on the team in recent weeks, perhaps it’s because THEY’VE LOST FIVE GAMES IN A ROW.
Ryan Clark loved the fans when 400,000 of them lined Grant Street to shower him and his team with praise after Super Bowl XLIII. There is no thing as unconditional love. If you want the praise in the good times, you have to accept the criticism during the bad. I guess Clark is too immature and self-involved to realize this.
Clark is a free agent at the end of this season. Considering his level of play has been somewhere between average and abysmal, I wouldn’t shed a tear if the Steelers let him go. I’m sure we can find another mediocre safety who can ride Troy Polamalu‘s coattails. Meanwhile, maybe Ryan will find a city where the fans and media are more forgiving of his inability to cover recievers or make an open field tackle. May I suggest Dallas or New York. I’m sure they’d be right up his alley.
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