When All Else Fails, Blame Media

Ryan Clark went off on the media Wednesday for what he feels is unfair and incorrect reporting of the Steelers' 6-7 season.

Thirteen games into what has become a nightmare season, Ryan Clark responded to the Steelers' five-game losing streak by lashing out at the Pittsburgh media.

Apparently, a Sunday spent watching other teams on TV and then checking the subsequent published accounts -- the Steelers haven't lost since last Thursday, which afforded ample opportunity for such research -- clued Clark in as to how unfairly the Steelers are being treated locally.

"You watch the Eagles, you watch the big plays," Clark said. "You watch things given up. And I started checking other media outlets. You don't hear the things about them in their media that you hear about us. So either we're held to a higher standards (sic) or the people that write about us are turds."

I bring this to your attention not because I'm offended or because I feel the need to defend the media, but because it reveals startling perspective on how one of the veteran leaders on the team is melting down during a crisis the likes of which the Steelers haven't experienced since 2003.

"We're still (the) fourth-ranked defense in the NFL," Clark said. "And I think it's becoming increasingly more evident that we are held to a different standard, which is OK.

"I think you do that when you do the things we did last year. But I think what we have to realize and what other people have to realize is the reason we were on the cover of ‘ESPN The Magazine' as a defense, the reason we were talked about the way we were talked about, because what we did is not supposed to happen.

"Is it impossible to happen again? No. Is it probable? Yeah, no, I mean, yes. It's probable it can happen, but it's tough. What we did was special. So as soon as we stop trying to be the '08 Steeler defense and realize that we're a different team and we have to go about things in different ways to make plays, and until, I think, we're stopped being talked about on that level, it's going to be every week, ‘Are y'all ready for this challenge with the struggles y'all been going through, and this and that?'"

How's that make you feel about the Green Bay game, better or worse?

"We just have to go out and play Sunday," Clark said. "You have to leave that where it is. You gotta leave what happened against these other teams where it is and go out and perform now. It's about what we're going to do on this Sunday. We can't carry that baggage into this game."

The baggage Clark apparently just can't let go of under any circumstances is over-packed with perceived inaccuracies as they relate to plays his teammates have been criticized for in the media.

You'd think he might want to let go of that stuff before anything else, given the more pressing concerns the Steelers are wrestling with at present.

Clark also cited "a bunch" of letters he received from fans, including one that maintained, in a nutshell, "Ryan, you and the defense thoroughly suck."

"When we win, you know, ‘Oh man, we doin' it for our fans,'" Clark said. "When we lose, you don't have no fans. It is what it is."

He acknowledged that, from a player's perspective, one negative letter or 10 negative letters "doesn't discount the whole Steeler Nation.

"It doesn't discount the people in California that send you letters ‘keep your head up, keep playing,'" Clark said. "We know it's not the whole, it's the minority.

"I have a bigger problem with y'all printing things about what people have done, and y'all wrong."

Clark was asked twice to cite an example of such.

"I have a lot of examples," he said.

And, apparently, a lot of issues.

Losing can do that to players and to a team.

Clark's meltdown confirmed the Steelers are as susceptible to succumbing to the pressures of their profession as anyone.

"I'm not going to be depressed," he insisted. "I'm not going to go home and beat my wife. I'm going to get on my knees every night and pray and thank God for the blessings I have every night, because even though you're going through some losses, you can't let this ruin your life, man."

Remarkably, Clark is the Steelers' reigning winner of the Chief Award, which has been bestowed since 1988 upon the member of the Steelers' organization who best exemplifies Art Rooney Sr.'s spirit of cooperation with the pro football writers.

As recently as a couple of weeks ago he poured his heart out to the microphones and minicams while trying to express what he and his teammates were going through during what at the time was only a three-game losing streak.

He only called out one media member -- specifically by name -- at that juncture.

And there was no reference whatsoever to fans turning on the team.

"I kinda gave y'all my soul; never again," Clark said.

"This year, increasingly, it's made me realize you have to play for your organization. You have to play for your teammates. You have to play for yourself, for your family. Because the people on the outside, they don't understand the frustration that you go through. They don't understand the work that you put into it every day."

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