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Clark weighs in on Harrison suspension


Here is Ryan Clark’s surprisingly muted reaction to James Harrison’s suspension. Clark is the Steelers’ union representative, and he has been outspoken in his criticism of Roger Goodell and the commissioner’s crackdown on illegal hits.

Q: How frustrating is all of this?
A: To be honest, I’m frustrated for James. I feel bad for James. I couldn’t imagine having to deal with what he’s had to deal with the past two years. I know he’s worked extremely hard to stay within the guidelines and it’s his first offense this year so that part frustrates me. As far as the other stuff it doesn’t bother me. You just hate to see a teammate, you hate to see a friend be kind of ostracized, ridiculed when he’s actually been working to do better.

Q: Has James been unfairly targeted by the league?
A: It’s not my call.

Q: Where do you see this going in the future? Will it get worse?
A: I’m just a free safety. I can’t tell y’all what’s going to happen in the future. We just want to play now. We want to try to figure out a way to be as physical as possible and to be as legal as possible. Right now that’s the challenge placed before us. On the other (side) of that when things don’t go our way we need to shut up because obviously being who we are isn’t working. Being outspoken about things and expressing our frustration in different manners than other people that’s not working for us. We’re not going to call the commissioner, we’re not going to set up meetings, that’s just not the players that we are. But I think as a team we just need to stop talking about it. Just do our best to go out here and play football because that’s what our jobs are and leave the rest of the politicking to other people.

— Scott Brown



  1. BUNCIE says:

    He sold his buddie out.

  2. Doug Halfen says:

    Bottom line, no matter who’s asking or being asked:

    Do not commit a helmet-to-helmet hit.

    Mr. Harrison walked right up the red carpet to the “award” of this suspension.

    I love watching him play, but that hit was a mistake before, during, and after he made it.

    Now, we’re without one of our all-time game-changers for a critical interconference game with an NFC heavyweight.

    Shame on James!!!

  3. Dave crowley says:

    Doug, it’s not shame on James it’s shame on you. McCoy was running with the ball, what is he supposed to do? Play two hand touch. It was a football hit that happens all the time. The refs made the right call for a penalty, it should have ended at that. Ben has been hit at least 15 times that way in the the last few years with not many calls. Go dell is a idiot who targets the steelers! Clark is right though, let’s focus on the games and playoffs! Winning the superbowl will shut them up! Go steelers!

  4. David says:

    Would you live to see Goodell hand the lombardi to James Harrison. And would you live to see James snatch the lombardi out of Goodells hand….. Give me that fool. And then he announces his retirement

  5. Douglas says:

    James Harrison’s hit was illegal. I like James but I call it as I see it. James has been warned about this and he even talked to Goodell about this personally. He deserves what he gets. He needs to play within the rules or he will keep getting fined. I enjoy watching James play but he needs to play within the rules.

  6. Clarence says:

    I hope James works to change his style to help the Steelers work on rings for the other hand. There’s nothing any of us can do. We all know that Goodell and co do not apply the rule fairly across the league. We can cite examples of this continuously.
    That’s my biggest problem with all of this.

    Goodell bets on our love for football keeping us tuned in. How well that works remains to be seen. The NBA once dominated the airwaves too yet today more teams seem to lose money than turn a profit thanks to David Stern. Goodell is a carbon copy of David Stern and he can ruin the NFL.. in fact to me, he seem to be off to a great start in doing so. Unless I’m the only person who watches less NFL.

    I figure, life is frustrating enough, why get more from the idiot box and the chief idiot Goodell? It’s not just the Harrison thing. Its the way he runs the league period and then lies to our face like a politician. Story after story this guy continues to be frustrating. Life’s too short and I am in waay too deep. It’s past time to pull up and pay attention to other stuff than the NFL.

  7. Dick says:

    What’s next after this? Just when you think you understand something in the rule book here comes a league change. When is a QB not a running back? Evidently never. So now you can’t tackle him high or low? What are they trying to do? Is it a safety issue or is just a ruse to juice up more offense? There are QBs coming who run a 4.3 forty and they’re not going to be pocket passers. I think it’s time for a personnel management change at the top of the NFL. fIf the league is really serious about player safety issues why don’t we hear more about equipment improvement? It seems to me that the helmets themselves could be improved to be less dangerous. Why aren’t face mask tackles and chop blocks being fined? I guess there is no safety issues there. Where in the world is this all going to end? Sometimes I think these people are trying to end all violence in football. Maybe they really want to kill the sport.

  8. Dick says:

    To Doug re your comment “Do not commit a helmet to helmet hit.”

    Running backs get helmet to helmet hits all the time. Think about it.

  9. Doug Halfen says:

    I reiterate: shame on James!

    The suspension (and what it implies for future incidents) is all that matters about the incident now. The message is simple and impossible to misunderstand:

    Don’t do it.

    Harrison has plenty of other talents that he brings to the table which are of greater value to the sport of football than hitting another player helmet-to-helmet (which is easily the LEAST of his tools). We’re going to _really_ miss his commanding, disruptive presence at Candlestick. (Think about it: I could envision him sacking Alex Smith AT LEAST four times… I call him “Alexander the Suck.” ;^)

    For the record, the Browns should be SUPER-ashamed for letting McCoy back into the game. The kid was clearly wonky after the hit, and retiring him for the night was a no-brainer. Yet the Browns’ staff is, even now, STILL mishandling the situation….

  10. D.L.Moore says:

    the helmet to helmet hit was a product of the qb putting the ball down and running with it then pulling up and passing is a player suppose to make a determination as to what the qb is really doing?if james would have tackled him low would there still be a flag and sespension?i think yes because qb are being treated like china dolls (accept ben of course).

  11. I have freeze frame on my television. James actually led in with this arms extended out and towards the shoulder. Mccoy lowered his head while running with the football. Maybe they should strap cameras on them next to see the plays.

  12. David says:

    I don’t believe this is being looked at from the right perspective so there for complaints will no doubt fall on deaf ears. The fact is, James is suspended, the appeal is a waste cause your appealing to the very people who handed it down. We as a team must make adjustments to this fact and be ready to play a very huge game. If we allow this incident to distract us from the bigger picture, we will lose to a 49ers team thatvseems to be in a downward mode. Steelers Nation, its time we move forward. Here we go Steelers, here we go!

  13. jim says:

    you are a shame to even believe you know football. It is a CONTACT sport. When you regulate the contact you no longer have the same game. It is big fast men hitting each other in minute periods of time. No time for fine point decisions. Harrison did what he needed to do. Shame on you.

  14. Paul says:

    The fans who continue to defend James Harrison should consider how doing so might eventually impact their own conscious and integrity eventually. Yes we all know that in Pittsburgh the Steelers rank somewhere above God, family and country and the obsession with supporting the team no matter has become an unhealthy fixture in the area, but let’s try to regain a little of our own personal character and tell the truth here, shall we?

    The claims at that league are out to get the team are so utterly ridiculous as to not be considered. Only one local sports commentator/reporter has had the courage to say publicly what everyone in the country is saying any time the talk turns to football; the Pittsburgh Steelers are the dirtiest team in the league by a wide margin and James Harrison is first amongst the thugs on the team when it comes to cheap shots and dirty play. Really people the league had to make rule changes to address Hines Ward’s dangerous and sleazy methods and every single year polls of their NFL peers rank Harrison, Clark, Ward and Polamalu in the top ten dirtiest players.

    Honestly I grew up watching the Steelers in the late sixties and seventies when everyone was outraged by the play of the Oakland Raiders and saw them for what they were and now the Steelers, especially under Mike Tomlin, have eclipsed that team in every possible way when it comes to cheap-shots.

    It’s so bad I really don’t even watching the games anymore due to presence of Harrison, Clark and Ward especially and do so less frequently and listening to my neighbors and others deny what everyone knows to be true and claim of bias by the league is just embarrassing and a poor reflection on their character.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers ARE the dirtiest team in the NFL and the Steeler fans are the only people unwilling to accept it.

  15. jason says:

    Roger Goodell is attempting to do to football what his buddy David Stern did to basketball. I no longer watch that joke called the NBA. This kind of arbitrary bullshit is game-changing power. The exact reason why the Steelers players were the only team smart enough to not ratify the CBA. Smith and his bullshit brigade do nothing for the players really. We all know that Roger is a piece of shit and is a worthless commissioner. This is not news. Hell, we are all still wondering what happened to the spygate tapes. What to do? Timmons is up next at OLB. Rest up Silverback. I bet little Colt is smart enough to slide next time…lol

  16. Grimmer says:

    I watched the play. Saw the replay, knew the fine was coming. My blame goes to the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns. Why on earth would you run an option to James Harrisons side of the field without knowing he is going to light him up! I do not think there was any malice or intent on Harrisons part, I think he was trying to make the best possible play he could. Here we go, here we go, DOOM ON THE NINERS!!

  17. Rick says:

    Aside from the fact that I am curious if Harrison hit McCoy lower, would there still be a problem since the refs thought the hit was late. People say he lowered his head and wasn’t looking, baloney. If he did lower his helmet and wasn’t watching, then he might have been called for spearing. I saw him lower his head just before he hit, if he hadn’t it would have been full face on, definitely a no-no.
    Yeah, pointless to expect the league to change their stance. It was a lose-lose situation.

    It was a Steeler player hitting a non-Steeler player in any way questionable.

    That is what I am ultimately concerned about. Refs do not call fairly when we are involved. The closest game was at Arizona.

    As a team they need to get their collective acts together. We are starting to see that from Clark. League says walk like a chicken, start clucking.

    Too bad their allow bias in penalty calls though, cause that is where I take issue. Call what you will against the Steelers, just MAKE THE SAME CALLS AGAINST THE OTHER TEAM AS WELL!

  18. Carl says:

    I think Clark handled this situation perfectly. I think Steelers defensive players know that there is nothing they can do about the league handing out penalties, fines, and suspensions, so just go out and play lights out defensively. Our D will win this game against the 49ers, just watch. Holding them under 10 points will do it, and if you’ve seen the 49ers play you will see that’s entirely possible.
    I would say that no one on this defensive is a headhunter, cheapshot artist, or whatever. They play hard and intimidating, and in the present Godell version of the NFL, playing that way will have you on the razor’s edge as far as breaking the “rules”.

  19. Dick says:

    Doug, I don’t think you understand. Do you really believe that James Harrison intentionally went helmet to helmet with McCoy? That is a pretty difficult thing to do with two moving bodies, especially when one body makes unexpected instantaneous moves. Therein lies the fallacy of this whole situation. No consideration is being given to the circumstances of a given incident. We saw last year when James was fined for a helmet to helmet on a wide receiver who ducked down to cover up causing the helmet collision. The replays clearly showed it but the league takes none of this into consideration. This is pure BS. It’s easy to condemn the defensive playerk but, just maybe, they should use their God given brains and think about the circumstances that brought about the helmet to helmet collision. Well, enough said, I guess there are those who just naturally abhor violence enough they will go to any extreme to stop it. That being said, I don’t know why they watch pro football.

  20. Kevin says:

    when you look at the hit, Harrisons arms are out stretched, his face mask is in McCoys chest, at impact McCoy’s helmet collides with Harrisons. Theres only 1 step between the throw and the hit. Physics and momentum are not changed easily in real time. goddell has a bad habit of issuing fines and suspensions on a whim, as Ray lewis’ hit on Ward went un punished. There needs to be a set standard, written, voted on and approved by the league, owners and players.goddel has not improved the sport, or the safety for the players. The CBA they had to sign , lest they lose revenue, will be detrimental to the players in the future. look at what the abbreviated pre season and no organized workouts affect on the players…theres been more injuries and “bad” games due to the lack of preparation in the first 4 weeks of the season.
    Harrison has been made the example, and why the owners put up with Goddel is beyond me.

  21. Jay Walker says:

    Like Starkey’s column today. Now if Kovalcevic only had his testosterone . . .

  22. Harrison Schmidt says:

    Look, quit your whining all of you. I used to live in Pittsburgh and still support the teams and talk positively about the city. What you all do everytime there’s a problem you start whining incessantly. It makes you all look like a bunch of spoiled cry-babies. God, you give the Burgh a bad name! Harrison is and always has been a dirty player. You were taught in midget football to NOT use your head, nor go head-first when tackling. The “spearing” is only for entertainment. James Harrison really should retire–he gives the team a bad name outside of Pittsburgh.

  23. Dick says:

    Paul, I don’t know where you from but it’s not Pittsburgh, You don’t know what s cheap shot is and further, you don’t know football. GO BACK TO YOUR KNITTING.

  24. Wildwood says:

    To say James didn’t do this intentionally is foolish because the truth is none of us actually know what his intentions were. For those of you defending James may have a good argument if it weren’t for the fact that he’s done this now at least “THREE OTHER TIMES” and been fined for it. It’s hard to dismiss this as just another “coincidence” and it’s clearly evident he leads with his helment too many times for that kill shot. This is a new era NFL one which favors offenses and in particular QB’s (with the exception of ours). James NOW knows any further action like this will be considered a selfish act and will greatly affect the team, LIKE MONDAY NIGHT. Forget the “why us” nonsense and JUST COMPLY because the standard has been set for James and will only escalate from here. Whether you like this style of play “and I do” makes no difference we should all be pissed with Goodell with his ” fly by the seat of your pants” type of inconsistencies with regards to fines/suspensions given. A structure needs to set by the league that’s clear once and for all.

  25. Dick says:

    Okay Harrison, you don’t sound like Pittsburg fan to me or a former Pittsburgh native for that matter. I was going to answer your post but it’s obvious you can’t think rationally. I will say you need to find a new team to support because loyal you are not.

  26. David says:

    At Paul, if u no longer watch the game then how in the world of Steelers Nation can you even comment on this let alone make your presence known on a Steelers blog, if u watch film and replay, Harrison pushes off with his arms, that is what causes colt to go back Luke he did the helmet was incidental to the hit as when two colliding forces meet at equeal speed something has to give, and guess what, Harrison probly out weights colt by a food hundred pounds you don’t hear volts father screaming about the hit if James do you, he is screaming at the browns for what they didn’t do.

  27. Mike says:

    “# jim
    December 15th, 2011 – 8:56 am

    you are a shame to even believe you know football. It is a CONTACT sport. When you regulate the contact you no longer have the same game. It is big fast men hitting each other in minute periods of time. No time for fine point decisions. Harrison did what he needed to do. Shame on you.”

    You’re going to call this guy out when it’s clearly you that doesn’t know the rules of the game?

    The rules state that when a QB scrambles out of the pocket, they lose SOME protections (i.e. the Brady Rule protection, etc).

    HOWEVER, should the QB go into a “clear passing posture”, he is afforded every other protection that a QB in the pocket would be. I.E. You can’t hit him late, you can’t hit him in the head, etc.

    Harrison took two and a half steps before hitting him, and this is AFTER the ball was gone. And it wasn’t a shovel pass or some other odd throw. It was an overhand throw – clearly establishing a passing posture.

    Did it happen fast? Yes. Is it unfortunate for James and McCoy? Definitely.

    But the fact of the matter is that the onus is on James to know the rules and play accordingly. Harrison should have known that, as McCoy was still behind the line of scrimmage, he could unload the ball at any time and as such, he must take that into account when deciding how to hit him.

    If James had just kept his head up (see what you hit) and run straight through McCoy, there would likely have been no discipline.

    Now we’re without one of our best guys on defense for one of our most important games.

  28. Jim says:

    If Harrison would have lowerd his sholder and hit Mccoy in the center if his chest, with his arm extended as it was as he was passing, he could have pehaps broken his solarplex and maybe killed the young man.

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