PITTSBURGH (KDKA)–Ryan Clark believes his defensive teammate is the most feared player in the NFL.
“You can’t run away from him because he’ll hit you on the side of the head, and you can’t run to him because he’ll hit you in your face,” said Steelers safety Ryan Clark about linebacker James Harrison on 93.7 The Fan. “That’s the type of guy that I want on my football team. Is he a loose cannon? Is he crazy? None of those things.
“I think James definitely has an image. I think James finds a way to play to that image extremely well and his play backs that up. But he’s definitely an asset to have on your football team.”
Harrison was quoted in Men’s Journal by Paul Solotaroff, saying controversial comments about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall.
In the article, the linebacker from Akron, Ohio talked about Roethlisberger’s Super Bowl performance. Harrison said, “Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again. Or hand the ball off and stop trying to act like Peyton Manning. You ain’t that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does.”
Harrison also called Goodell a “crook” and a “devil”, among other insults, and Mendenhall a “fumble machine.”
Clark said he was interviewed for the story by Men’s Journal, and Solotaroff spent not just one day with Harrision, but “interviewed him over a number of days and took a number of conversations to piece together an article.”
“I saw the way things were taken out of context, and so I was just saying that it wasn’t as big of a deal as people were trying to make it,”Clark said. “You know, it is just James. We understand that sometimes James says things that other people won’t say. Sometimes James says things that upset others that don’t know him, and as for us, we were just rolling with it.
“I knew he would handle it in an adult manner when things began to be talked about and things were being criticized, and he did. Now it’s over, and now we can play.”
Harrison apologized through Facebook, saying, “I’ll start by offering my apologies for some of the words that I said during the four days in May that Men’s Journal was invited to my house to discuss what the NFL has recently been portraying as their attempts at ‘player safety’ rules and regulations.”
“I did make comments about my teammates when I was talking about the emotional Super Bowl loss, but the handful of words that were used and heavily publicized yesterday were pulled out of a long conversation and the context was lost,” Harrison said. “Obviously, I would never say that it was all Ben’s or Rashard’s fault that we lost the Super Bowl. That would be ridiculous.
“Both Ben and Rashard are great players and great teammates. Clearly the entire team bears responsibility for the loss, me included. It was a team effort and a team loss. My teammates know me well, and hopefully understand the things I said were not meant to accuse them of the loss. We all have discussed several things that went wrong in the Super Bowl since that day. What I do apologize for and take full responsibility for is for speaking in such a candid manner to someone outside the team.”
Harrison went on to talk more about his Goodell comments and photos taken for the story.
Clark said Solotaroff put together the “most sensationalism” quotes from Harrison, and said Harrison’s comments had nothing to do with the lockout.
“(Solotaroff) pieced together what can give you the best quotes to match this picture that we took,”Clark said. “It just is what it is. He’s a man. He said what he said, and it was taken out of context. Now, he’s dealing with the consequences of it.”
Clark, player representative for the Steelers, believes football will be played this year, and said a deal could get done as early as Friday. Yet,Clark said there is still a lot of business to be done before actual playing begins including free agency, signing undrafted free agents and rookies.
The veteran safety from LSU said there is a 50 percent chance the Steelers will be in Latrobe on time for training camp.
“I know we’ll definitely be in Latrobe at some point,”Clark said. “I don’t foresee it being extremely late, but there is still some things to hammer out. One thing that we have to stress is that this thing is not over until the ink dries on the paper, until we sign it, until it’s ratified, until we’re ready to go. You have to be ready for anything to happen.”