Ryan Clark sure has made waves in the past week or two. It seems that every time anyone has a thought, Ryan Clark is coming in to give his opinion on the subject. And it really looks like not only is his Steeler career over, but he might be working his way out of the NFL overall.
Let's start with the marijuana de-penalization the NFL is considering. With the United States finally starting to catch up to the year 2014, our Dear Leader has claimed that the league would consider marijuana for medicinal usage to help him save face in the wake of a massive lawsuit over the NFL's handling of brain injuries.
Clark doesn't seem to think there's any need for that, as players are going to smoke pot anyway. Now, I'm quite certain NFL players use marijuana to deal with the crippling pain their profession burdens them with, and we all sort of know that, right? But in case you were on the fence, there's Ryan Clark to just let everyone know, right out in the open.
Specifically, Clark says he has teammates who use it. That's narrowing it down to a list of 60 or so guys that he's essentially outing as pot smokers. I can't imagine this would be well-received by those teammates. It just isn't a thing you go out and publicly say about people you maintain close relationships with.
Or how about Michael Sam, the Missouri senior linebacker who outed himself as gay and will become the NFL's first openly gay player next season? In a perfect world, this wouldn't even be a story because sexual orientation has as much to do with your ability to play football as whether you have brown or blue eyes. Cut to Clark, though:
What are the things you can do and say around him that won’t make him uncomfortable? That won’t make him feel that he’s being ostracized? Or that won’t make him feel like he’s being harassed or quote, unquote bullied?
It's not that difficult, Ryan, to not be a dickhead. But this isn't about Ryan Clark's homophobiaphobia. Stu White at Fansided did a plenty good enough job of that. The point here is that Clark is giving and taking media bait. Marijuana and sexual orientation are still controversial subjects because it's still 1932 for some people. Clark is jumping in on these subjects and making remarks about them, something active players just don't do.
It's no secret that Clark has a studio job waiting for him at ESPN when he retires. The 12 year veteran is a pending free agent and appears to have played his last game in black and gold (unless he signs with the Saints or something, but that's a technicality, shut up). His remarks about the Steelers' marijuana use have paved his road out of Pittsburgh, and his incendiary remarks about Michael Sam suggest that he already has his feet in the water as far as his media gig is concerned. He's also weighed in on the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito saga, but that's getting to the level where I don't even want to research it to form an opinion anymore.
So what's the impact of all of this? Not much, honestly. If Clark is going to be a media personality next year, this is what he's going to do. If he plays in the NFL, he'll have to win over a new locker room, not just slide back into place with the Steelers.
As for the Steelers, well, you don't trade up and draft Shamarko Thomas if you're expecting your free safety to hang around for a few more years. The Steelers are going to move on.