Steelers

Colin Dunlap: Ryan Clark Was Just Being Blunt

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(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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Weeknights, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Colin grew up in Sharpsburg and...
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Nothing Ryan Clark says surprises me. Nothing Ryan Clark says should surprise you.

If it does, that’s your fault. I’m well past that stage.

On Thursday morning, the defensive back just as apt to turn the lights out on a receiver as he is to say something that apprehends your attention, was at it again — with his mouth.

On the ESPN program “First Take,” Clark offered, of marijuana use in the National Football League:

“I know guys on my team who smoke. And it’s not a situation where you think, ‘Oh, these are guys trying to be cool.’ These are guys who want to do it recreationally.

“A lot of it is stress relief. A lot of it is pain and medication. Guys feel like, ‘If I can do this, it keeps me away from maybe Vicodin, it keeps me away from pain prescription drugs and things that guys get addicted to.’ Guys look at this as a more natural way to heal themselves, to stress relieve and also to medicate themselves for pain. Guys are still going to do it.”

Please don’t tell me you are surprised by any of this.

You shouldn’t be surprised Ryan Clark said it.

You shouldn’t be surprised Steelers allegedly like to smoke tree.

You shouldn’t be surprised at their alleged motives for their weed affinity.

And, lastly, you shouldn’t be surprised that guys have such a flippant attitude toward the league’s not-too-stringent testing policy for the stuff.

If any of this surprises you, you’re either naïve, not too smart or a mixture of both.

Perhaps the most ire and indignation in the aftermath of the comments on ESPN toward Clark have been reserved for the way that, some feel, he assailed his (most likely former) Steelers teammates. The way some in almighty Steeler Nation feel Clark made everyone a suspect while throwing a blanket statement out there and not revealing which player —- or players — are guilty of smoking dope.

Give me a break.

Remember something fundamentally — Ryan Clark, if nothing else, is most likely the honest one here.

Love him, hate him or (and this is damn near impossible) feel indifferent about him, Clark is almost-certainly being honest in his assertion that members of the Pittsburgh Steelers enjoy partaking in smoking weed here and there.

But it is convenient now to muddy the water with your angst and revulsion directed at Clark while simultaneously ignoring the root issues that he brought up — most notably that guys on your favorite football team like to smoke weed and do it to avoid turning into people who pop pain pill after pain pill.

I sure don’t have a problem with either; not a problem with guys in that Steelers locker room smoking marijuana and, more to the point, doing it to avoid what could be a deep, dark addiction to something that could send them spiraling.

Just the way I feel, just my opinion.

And here’s another one — Ryan Clark’s words, his message and what he said to capture headlines on Thursday was all pretty darn calculated.

You see, Clark won’t be a football player much longer — if at all.

A free agent right now, if a team picks him up, he doesn’t have all that much longer to play. A year, maybe two or three at the very most, Clark has almost hit his expiration date on the field, as he’s a 12-year veteran.

However, he’s just getting started as a yapper in the media. There’s no question one of his purposes, to make sure that he has a job in media on the other side of that playing career, is to have the masses pay attention to what he says when he says it.

All the time, every time.

Nothing innocuous, nothing ho-hum, something that grabs your attention each and every time Clark’s mouth opens on that TV screen.

Even though he most likely did nothing more than simply tell the truth Thursday, Ryan Clark certainly appropriated the spotlight.

Know what? That’s not a bad way to make a positive impression on his bosses in the media game in which he will work after he’s done playing.

None of us should be surprised Clark said what he said.

To be blunt, I can’t believe it took him this long.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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