Steelers’ Ryan Clark: “I’m so disgusted with the NFL right now”


Steelers safety Ryan Clark has heard the talk that the NFL needs to protect offensive players from low hits, and he’s getting fed up.

The NFL Competition Committee will review the legal low hit that ended Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller’s season, and Clark is concerned that the next step will be to make it even harder for defensive players to do their jobs.

I’m so disgusted with the NFL right now about those situations,” Clark said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If an offensive player makes enough of a stink, they’ll change it. I know Tony Gonzalez was extremely upset about the hit on Dustin Keller.”

Clark said that he gave up a touchdown pass to Victor Cruz last year in part because he couldn’t take the angle toward Cruz that he wanted to take.

“I remember a hit I had on Victor Cruz last year, which was clearly legal, but it gave up seven points,” Clark said. “I hurt my team by doing something I deemed legal and something the NFL also deemed legal by not fining me. So you go to the other extreme. The guys know there is no way possible [to] get fined if [they] go low. It will be one or the other. Guys will hit up high and maybe risk getting a concussion or hurting a shoulder. When you get hit low, the season is going to be over. If they decide to change this rule, they might as well put flags on.”

It’s obviously an extreme overstatement to say that today’s NFL is anything like flag football. But that’s direction that many defensive players see the NFL heading.

93 responses to “Steelers’ Ryan Clark: “I’m so disgusted with the NFL right now”

  1. Waaa waaaaa waaaaaaaa! Glad to see Ryan Clark is in mid-season form already. Enjoy your last season in Pittsburgh, Cryin Ryan.

  2. Another reason why I love Ryan Clark. He speaks his mind and doesn’t sugar coat anything. If he worked for my employer, he would be hated just like I am. Sometimes the truth hurts. The NFL and it’s rules are a mess. They have absolutely zero compassion for guys with lower leg injuries. The only guy that’s happy is Dr. James Andrews cause he’s getting plenty of work.

  3. Clark admits he couldn’t stop Cruz playing by the rules. Good. And anyone with an honest half brain knows the hit on Keller was nothing other than an intent to injure someone. Inmates should not run the asylum.

  4. It’s not an overstatement, he’s right.

    Are we really going to change a rule EVERY time someone gets hurt on a football field?

    Guys occasionally get blown up in the flat on a swing pass…. better make those illegals.

    Passes over the middle of the field? Nope take those out too.

    Oh and Gronk broke his arm on an extra point. Let’s just take those out of the game.

  5. It really isn’t difficult to hit people between the head and knees. Rugby players have been doing this since the game was invented.

    What’s so hard about tackling i.e. putting your head to the side and wrapping your arms around the body/legs rather than trying to spear the opponent with your head?

  6. I agree with Clark. The wussification of the NFL continues, and the blame lies squarely on the players themselves, their agents, and NFLPA lawyers who continue to file lawsuits against the NFL.

    Next thing we know, if a DEF player farts in the direction of an OFF player, the DEF player will be flagged, ejected, fined, and suspended for “offending” the olfactory senses of the OFF player.

  7. The players need to take this up with their union. It’s the threat of lawsuits from the players that has the NFL ruining the game. Would be interesting to see if players would sign a document accepting the risk and holding the NFL harmless of any future lawsuit. I doubt too many would sign it.

  8. I can empathize with Clark, the NFL is making it almost impossible for defensive players to do their job. While I understand the need to make the game safer, the owners are going way overboard IMO on this issue. If things continue along this path I think it will start to hurt the game in terms of fan support. You can only make a full contact game or sport so safe, after that you start to dilute the product and the NFL is rapidly approaching that point I think.

  9. How about you just do a good old-fashioned wrap up tackle. The game would be a lot safer if players would just learn that instead of trying to blow people up for the highlight.

  10. Clark has a point. With all the protective advantages given to the offensive side of the ball, the NFL needs to protect the defensive players from cut blocks as well. They should also take away the illegal contact penalty too, to level the playing field for the defense.

  11. I wonder if players who make this argument realize how stupid it makes them sound. There’s that big area in between the head and knee’s defenders can go after. I wonder why reporters don’t ask them that when they make comments like this. Or if they do ask, what the response has been….

  12. Can’t argue with the guy.

    Remember, this is coming from an NFL player who’s the one at “risk” here.

    I’m telling you, boycott these guys. See how influental Goodell and his sheep are when no one throws money at their product anymore.

    They need to realize that no matter how much money they make or how much power theu have that this is still all about the fans.

    If theu keep crapping all over us and OUR game we would be total fools to keep supporting it.

    Just bring back football.

  13. If you don’t agree with him, you’re short sighted. He’s absolutely right. You can’t legislate out injuries unless you make it flag football and that’s what the league is trying to do.

  14. Personally, I don’t live for Sundays anymore, have turned games off after flags on hits that were legal but maybe on the QB, and I fully expect that by the end of this season I will be watching soccer instead.

  15. I think we should all sit back and remember the NFL in the 90’s and appreciate that we saw the game the way it was meant to be played.

    In 10 years, we’ll be wishing for the NFL we see today.

  16. some of theses flags are ridicolus..
    the majority of helmet to helmet
    are by accident..not intenional..
    defenses might as well be handcuffed

  17. He’s 100% correct. Additionally, every player knows what they signed up for, so they’re aware that injuries are part of the game.

  18. Am I the only one that doesn’t get the outrage from defensive players? Hit the guy you’re tackling anywhere from the shoulders down to just above the knee and you’re fine. Also, don’t lead with the crown of your helmet, which hopefully you’ve been hearing since you were 5 years old. I get that no one wants the game to basically turn into flag football, and I’m not a huge fan of Goodell by any means, but the rules regarding low hits just seem like common sense.

  19. Folks, it all goes back to stupid government and lawyers. Why not this:

    Have all players, BEFORE any employment in NFL, come to week long class that goes through all physical and mental risks of playing this sport, ya know, the one played for over 150 years. Then, at completion of said training, each prospective player signs off on class and that after that, YES, they still want to play and THEY accept the risk as it is THEIR BODIES AND THEIR LIVES AND THEIR FREEDOM?

    No lawsuits are ever filed. And do this with smoking please while kids are in 8th grade. These lawyers and government do-nothings already have taken away so much from our society. Time to stop it once and for all.

  20. When a Pittsburg Steelers player speaks, the entire NFL takes notice. The rules will be changed back to the old smash mouth ways. If they Steelers say it, it shall be done. All other franchises are inferior.

  21. On one end, its football and these players assume the risk of serious injury just as a police officer or fireman. On the other end, we all as fans hate injuries in the NFL because it sways the balance of power and lessens the overall value of the product. Just hope they find a happy medium that we all can enjoy.

  22. You wanna be mad at somebody, be mad at the players who turn around and sue the league when their careers are done. All these money grab lawsuits the NFL faces every year are the reason for the rule changes. The NFL is trying to protect itself from the players, and the only one you have to blame are the players themselves.

  23. Last season Clark got penalized for a late unnecessary hit on Cruz in the endzone on an incomplete pass. It had nothing to do with hitting high or low or the angle that he took. It was simply a late hit after Ike Taylor had already batted the ball away.

  24. Hey how about this? LEARN HOW TO ACTUALLY TACKLE AGAIN.

    When did tackling become fly at someone with your head or shoulder like a missle? I don’t know when it changed, but when I started playing football as a little kid & all through high school we were talk look at what you are tackling…see it, wrap up like a bear hug & get 2 fist fulls of jersey from the ball carrier’s jersey.

    It is big time college where that ends?

    Why is it only defensive lineman making a sack are the only guys making FORM TACKLES?

    I remember there were still guys in the 90’s making form tackles. Chris Spielman made them all the time………

    Why must you hit a guy in the head or the knees with your helmet?

  25. I think what all these defensive players are trying to say is if they tackle an offensive player above the knees and below the neck, they will most likely get trucked and their egos will not allow that. Can’t say I blame them. So of these offensive players are some pretty large mammals.

  26. He’s right, in that when an offensive player lowers his head, there is no place for a DB to legally tackle.

    You can enforce the main objective of the rules by prohibiting side shots at the knees, and spearing or going for the head in its normal position, without also prohibiting all contact. These all still require some ref judgment and there will be disputes over where the line is drawn, but it’s always been that way.

  27. Right now, the defensive players are held strictly liable for helmet-to-helmet contact, such that if the contact is caused by the OFFENSIVE player lowering his head, the defender can still get flagged and fined or suspended. That is what needs to change. If the defender is clearly aiming lower than the head and helmet-to-helmet contact is caused by the offensive player lowering his head, the defender shouldn’t get penalized. This should provide less incentive for the defender to go at the ball carrier’s knees.

  28. britishraven says:
    Aug 28, 2013 7:43 AM
    It really isn’t difficult to hit people between the head and knees. Rugby players have been doing this since the game was invented.

    What’s so hard about tackling i.e. putting your head to the side and wrapping your arms around the body/legs rather than trying to spear the opponent with your head?
    Exactly!!!!! That is how I learned to tackle. I watch NFL games and wonder where people learned to tackle with their shoulders without wrapping their arms. I watch my team tackle this way and not only does it initiate injury but you miss a lot of tackles too. What good is spearing with the helmet or shoulder pads?

  29. No, he is right. I remember he gave up a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas
    one time cause he couldnt take the angle he wanted.

  30. I honestly think it’s getting to the point where defensive players don’t know where or when its legal to hit a player… I’ve watched the Ravens preseason games and they were getting hard to watch with all the flags being thrown…

  31. I “love” peoples responses. Apparently, the NFL is ruining football by requiring defenders hit players between the neck and knees. Did I miss something? Is that what you people watch football for? The hits to the head and the knees? I’ve never seen a penalty called for a hard hit otherwise. I see plenty of them throughout the season. If you can’t hit a player in the chest, shoulders, hips, or thighs then you don’t deserve to get paid that much money to play the game.

  32. Learn to wrap a guy up and tackle him properly so that you do not have to worry about hitting him too high or too low.

  33. I have seen plenty if defensive players complain about knees as well. Change for cut blocks came this year due to def players. Most changes may be for off players but the poor me victim act is sad. Used to be a time when players could actually arm tackle someone and take them down and not need to pretend to be a missile, good old fashion football.

  34. This is just another example of the NFL not adhering to the “if it aint broke don’t fix it” rule.

    NFL needs to turn back the clock just a few years and stop with all this crap.

    All they have to do is make blanket amendment to all contracts that states the NFL can’t be sued due to injuries that occur on the field.

    It’s a violent game, WTH ?

  35. I see several people stating how theres a lot of room between the head and knees. While that is true in theory, in live action it’s not quite that simple. A receiver/ball carrier’s natural intinct is to lower their head and brace themselves before a hit is delivered. In doing so, the oncoming defender who may be targeting the ballcarrier’s numbers is now delivering a hit to the head because the ballcarrier’s head and pad level has changed in preparation for the hit. Not much the defender can do to change their target full speed if the runner drops their head. I think that’s why players are upset; they’re getting penalties and fines for hits that had no illegal intent but still bear the onus of hitting ‘legally’ even when the opposition’s helmet and pad level changes.

  36. As much as it pains me to agree with a player like Clark, hes right.

    The NFL has already outlawed hits above the shoulder, now they want to limit hits below the waist. So now, on a 6.5′ WR, there would be a 2ft window that you are allowed to touch without fine or suspension. Its going to be impossible to tackle larger WRS. They will just run through the arm tackles and chest bumps that the smaller CBs try to put on them.

    Football is a dangerous sport. People get hurt. Its part of the game and they should know that. Stop knee jerking to injuries. Improve the helmet and pad technology and let the coaches decide tackling method

  37. Big area between the head and knees? When a 250-lb TE or RB is bearing down on a 190-lb CB, you expect the CB to take him on high or wrap him up around the thighs? LOL.

    Plus, these guys don’t run upright, so the strike zone is even smaller. And it’s at full speed. And if the hit “looks dangerous”, they’re going to flag it anyway.

    Sweep the leg.

  38. While I am disappointed that the rule changes in the name of safety seem to be piling up here, I have a tough time siding with someone who say the new rules are the reason they got burned on a touchdown.

    Take the fine if your gut tells you that you won’t maim the guy if its a gray-area hit. Prevent the touchdown for your team and appeal any fine that may be issued. But don’t tell me that Goodell made you get burned on a score.

    I mean Flacco was ready to come off the sidelines on the final play of the Super Bowl to prevent a kick return TD.

  39. A neuro doc I know says that with the speed, weight and fitness of today’s players it is inevitable there will be an on field fatality. Then what?

    Teddy Roosevelt once banned football.

    I can’t recall the image I wonder if the Jack Tatum hit that paralyzed Darryl Stingley would be legal today.

    I watched some of the highlights of some of those 7os Steelers-Raiders games. Those guys could be arrested today for those hits, especially on the receivers.

    Not taking a side.

  40. When people say that the rugby players can do it, they are advocating turning American Football into rugby with a forward pass and therefore completely miss Ryan Clark’s point. Just get rid of the helmets already and be done with it. Steeler hate ruins the reading comprehension of many posters.

  41. If coaches would run tackling drills w/no helmets, set up cones 5 yards apart & do it on grass in shorts w/no pads, guys would learn how to tackle properly. I’m sick of seeing shoulder bumps & body launches that guys call tackling today. Shoulder to the midsection, head off to the side, WRAP the arms…..that’s a tackle. The NFL stats ppl should exclude from the stats anyone who doesn’t wrap the arms. When guys see their tackle numbers decline steeply, they’ll change so they can pad their stats for the next contract negotiation.

    Poor tackling form is rampant. Highly skilled athletes can’t master this one basic skill & we’ve all seen guys bounce off “tackling attempts” that aren’t really tackling attempts. I learned how to tackle in 7-8 youth league.

  42. So quit.

    I love how players complain that the game is getting soft, but the second they leave the league they’re jumping in on the lawsuit.

    We have players mad because they get hit in the head, others prefer it to the knees.

    We have Jared Allen doing the EXACT same thing to Lance Louis last year that Looney did to Williams this year, and now he’s whining about it when last year he wasn’t a “dirty player”.

    We have the NFLPA who thinks their job is to oppose the league rather than support the players.
    We still don’t have HGH testing.

    We’ve had more injuries and blown calls sine the “real” refs came back than we ever did with replacements.

    More injuries in preseason than we would in an extra two games.

    There is a reason the NFL is a juggernaut… players should shut up and play, or leave.

    The problem is that NFLPA opposes everything the league does, half the players complain for one side, half the players for another. The players don’t want resolution because as it stands they get paid a lot without testing and without safety, and then get a second career suing the NFL when they are done.

  43. All you morons talking about “just make a good tackle between the waist and the head and wrap up”..give me a freaking break!! Do you think the offensive player is going to just stand there and get “wrapped up”? No they are moving, usually very fast and powerful, and will run right through your lame arm tackle. A defensive player needs to target and HIT. Offensive players try to avoid those hits. Adrian Peterson would laugh off those arm tackles that people are suggesting. Its football…at this rate the NFL will be over in 3-5 years.

  44. “When I was your age, they used to have to tackle the ball carrier. What’s ‘tackle’? They actually had to hit him and knock or pull him to the ground. Tapping him with two hands wasn’t enough.”

  45. I could understand with hits to the head but I rather have a concussion then a blown out knee that could end the year or even your career in football. This clown is making football into a p—y sport

  46. The NFL in trying to get player safety first have really missed the point. It is not the accidental contact in a clean hit that is the problem either to the head or the knees. It is a problem with going after vicious hits designed to injure an opponent. To stop a running back you either tackle low or you end up with gang tackles because as long as his legs keep moving he will make more forward progress. I can understand not deliberately aiming your helmet at another player. However it is so easy for a receiver who comes down with the ball to immediately drop his head so that a chess tackle ends up being a helmet contact that favors the receiver. As strong and athletic as these players are, it almost impossible to stop a player in the open field if the defender has to try to wrap them up or hit them in the chest. Maybe that is why we are seeing bruised lungs and back contusions. It is a contact sport. Some hits are always going to cause some players to get hurt. I wish they could find a way to control dirty hits versus clean hits but sometimes it would be hard for a ref to know what the player’s intent was. This is a tough problem for players and the league to try to find balance. Blanket rules though is not the answer.

  47. The NFL will continue to do what it wants … because it can.
    The NFL knows that no matter how hard it tries to ruin the sport, its popularity will never suffer. The NFL’s popularity is build on gambling, fantasy leagues, video games and heavy drinking and not on how the game is actually played. Take those four things out of the equation and the NFL would be no more popular in this country than hockey.
    Only the hardcore fan has noticed that football isn’t what it used to be.

  48. He’s correct, sort of. However maybe if defensive players would actually wrap up and tackle opposing players instead of always trying to blow them up to be a highlight on SportsCenter there wouldn’t be a need to change the rules to enhance safety.

  49. Learn to tackle instead of trying to make the highlight reel and it’s not an issue. NFL defenders, as a whole, need more fundamentals and fewer human torpedos.

    The best tacklers I ever saw in my college days were all wrestlers. Learn to take a guy down and not just throw your body at him.

  50. We all have to learn and implement new policies at our jobs. It’s called the “real world”. These guys just don’t get it. They all talk about their “livelihood” and “it’s a business”, but then they want to complain when they have to be “professionals” and adapt to changes.

    Get a clue and stop crying. Clark will show up in the media at least 5 more times this year whining about something.

  51. You gave up 7 points and you never had an issue hitting him before, well, when you could catch him. You just couldn’t catch him that time shuffle-stepper.

  52. philgrek says:
    I’ve never seen a penalty called for a hard hit otherwise.

    You are right, you see fines.

  53. Love how ppl are saying form tackle with head up wrap your arms and drive to the ground. Sounds nice until Alfred Morris is running at you full speed and your a Db .. I can see them trying it and getting their arms run thru or run over!

  54. wryly1 says:

    ” And anyone with an honest half brain knows the hit on Keller was nothing other than an intent to injure someone.”

    That’s a ridiculous statement. You don’t know for a fact that Swearinger intended to injure Dustin Keller. If he had tried to hurt Keller, why did Swearinger look remorseful immediately after the play when he saw Keller’s knee? Swearinger then went over to Keller on the cart and apologized to him. If a guy intends to hurt another player, he doesn’t show remorse on the field, it’s that simple.

  55. The NFL will also begin reviewing the legality of hits to the torso to eliminate injuries sustained to the torso/internal organs.

    Thus eliminating the word “tackle” from football.

  56. I seen William Gay try to arm tackle AP 1 time in the open field and all D players seen that too…

  57. People complain that players don’t know how to tackle.

    This is because teams aren’t allowed to practice tackling very much because of…nfl rules for practices!!!

  58. Lol….you can really tell which people were once athletes in their lives and which people just sat on their couch watching. I for one was a college athlete, and I can say I 100% agree with Clark. And not because I’m a Steelers fan (which I am), but because he makes a valid point. Joe Flacco or Ray Rice could’ve made this statement, and I’d 100% agree with them too! It’s sports, you get hurt, it happens. I’ve had injuries all throughout my career and never “cried about it” because the other player was “too rough”. Yeah people make dirty plays, but every athlete does in their sport. Yes, the consequences for dirty plays are penalties, as it should be, and be kept that way. When you sign up to play a sport, you take the risk of knowing that you could get injured and/or even end your career at one point and time (hopefully you don’t). As an athlete, if you get hurt, you shut up and do whatever you can to treat yourself and recover back to 100% to get back out on the field, court, or ice. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!

    Look at the NHL: Those guys get slammed into boards, knocked down hard on the ice, punched in the face, lose teeth, break bones, gett hit by a puck in the face, get concussions, and they get stitched up or get treated (and recover if it’s a serious injury) and get back on the ice and play. And most of all, they shut up about it. They don’t change the rules. The NFL is turning into one of the softest leagues! So yes, people Clark and any other NFL player who feels the same way, are right!

  59. Can someone ask Clark, if he rather see his kid get a concussion or give up a touchdown?

  60. Just shut up and put your big girl panties on and play football. Sorry I can’t get all upset about a bunch of over payed guys getting paid to play a GAME! Get over it. Get on the field and play.

  61. Honestly from all if these opinions, I can tell who actually PLAYED football in their lives, “played” football in their lives, and those who couldn’t buckle a pair of shoulder pads on even if they wanted to. When a ball carrier lowers his shoulder to avoid being tackled, there are only 2 places to hit them: the head and the knees. When a 265 lb. tight end is running toward a 195 lb. corner, there is only one place to hit them to effectively take them down: the legs. Take that away and then what? We’ll be left wondering how all of these All-Pro corners and safeties are all out with injuries. It’s physics. Prohibiting low hits will just cause more injuries, probably concussions.

  62. 4,000 former NFL athletes disagree with all of the “I was an athlete” posters on here. They (former NFL athletes) are the ones that have filed suit against the NFL, and they are the reason the NFL is changing the game.

  63. Here’s an idea…take the helmets and facemasks away and let them tackle however they want. The problem is that these guys don’t know how to tackle anymore.

    All they know is how to project themselves at the weakest point (head and knees) of the ball carrier.

    Learn how to tackle and shut up!

  64. And btw, all these comments about the ball carrier being able to lower his head and only leave his legs available to be tackled….LISTEN UP!

    They’re talking about defenseless players! Not players that have the ball and have turned upfield. Read and educate yourselves before commenting and making yourself look ignant!

  65. Of all the former NFL players suing the NFL making the rules ridiculous, I wonder how many of them went back in the game woozy because they wanted to. Quick to say coaches wanted that’s crap, Jus like RG3 so pressed to get back to maybe only hurt himself. Then we going to here how former players with knee injuries came back to fast to get hurt because of low hits. Hypocrisy!!

  66. We can’t get a ref to determine when a H2H hit is incidental, how are we going to get a ref to determine a guy was trying to blow out a players knees, vs. just trying to take his legs out from under him? We are regulating defense out of the game. It’s funny how the NFL puts out a statement that they will look at low hits, when the hit is on an offensive player, but every single game we have O linemen, chop blocking defenders on the line, and the NFL has no problem with that, because coaches say without the chop block they can’t run the ball? Contrary to what Mr. Goodell thinks, a huge part of the fan base loves defense, and dont want to see areana style in the NFL.

  67. Ryan will be out of the league in a year or so because he’s already too old.

    Wait, nevermind. He plays for the Steelers. I’m sure Colbert will hang on to his old decrepit body for at least 6 or 7 more years…

    #oldsteel #colbertmustgo

  68. Clark should blame his own team for any rules designed to prevent dirty play. Steelers won their rings by taking cheap shots and even had a rule named after the dirtiest player of them all –Hines Ward.

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