2011 NFL Lockout: Ryan Clark Sounds Off on ‘Ridiculous’ Offers, Lack of Incentive For Owners to Negotiate Quickly

February 16, 2011 – 10:10 am by Michael Bean

On the field, he’s a hard-hitting strong safety. Off the field, he’s a highly opinionated and well spoken leader. Ryan Clark of the Pittsburgh Steelers is going to be in the news plenty in the forthcoming weeks and months while the NFL and its players try to hammer out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. On Tuesday, Clark spent his morning in studio talking about the state of negotiations between the two parties. Though he has nothing nice to say about the owners coalition and the likelihood that a new deal will get done before the March deadline, he is still optimistic that football will start again on time next September.

Clark joined The Morning Show live in studio on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh to talk about how he’s not yet over the loss to the Packers in the Super Bowl for the simple reason that you never know when you may have another shot at SB glory, how just a few plays might have turned the game in Pittsburgh’s favor, how despite saying that he gives all the credit in the world to Green Bay for their performance in Super Bowl XLV, having friends and family lose their seats as part of the seating screw up at Cowboys Stadium two Sundays ago, how he’s concerned about the state of negotiations between the owners and NFLPA but optimistic that something can still be done between the time that the CBA expires and the ’11 season should start, how it’s highly unlikely but not entirely impossible for the players to ultimately accept an 18-game schedule, how he doesn’t see the owners budging because of the fact that they’ll be getting paid next year from television contract money regardless of if there’s actual games being played or not, and how he’s hoping that Dan Rooney….Big Rooney as the players call him….will find a way to be an integral part of the negotiation process in between his duties as ambassador to Ireland.

On if he’s gotten over the Steelers Super Bowl loss:

“No, no. Not at all. It’s something that you think about every day because it’s not a situation you’re going to be in every year. You  know, we’re not promised to be there ever again. So to be there, to lose, and to feel like you could have done things differently — a play here, a play there to help your team win the game — it’s tough. Had we won I probably would have started working out some time in March. I started yesterday. Because losing wants to make you get back to that podium. So it’s a tough, tough situation. But it was a blessing to have been there, it doesn’t take away from what we did all season, you just wish it could have ended on a better note.”

Whether he feels like one or two plays could have swung the game in the Steelers favor:

“Yeah, any time it’s a one score game, that’s what it is. You think about making a play on their last field goal drive to give the offense a different situation. You think about I missed the ball…I think I tipped the ball on the pass Greg Jennings caught for a touchdown…to be able to knock that down. For Green Bay not to get pressure on Ben and you’ve got Mike Wallace streaking past the cornerback. So it’s just one play. And that’s not to take away from the fact that Green Bay made the plays to win the game. I said that after the game…people were asking if this was a situation where Green Bay winning or you losing. And it’s disrespectful to say that a team that won the Super Bowl was given the game. They won the football game; they made the plays. They had a quarterback make more pin-point accurate throws than I’ve ever seen against a team that was actually putting pressure on him. It’s not like our guys weren’t getting there because they were. So they made the plays to win the football game. So you’ve got to give them credit. They were the best team in the NFL.”

On having friends and family that lost their seats as a result of the seating snafu at Cowboys Stadium:

“Yeah, yeah. I think most of us did though. If you had enough people come to the game, you probably had that section of tickets that was messed up. Personally I think it was part greed that ruined the week, you know what I mean? When you don’t do things the right way all the time and you don’t treat people correct and are kind of all about self, sometimes it’s not going to work out for you. That’s probably why the weather was the way it was.”

So he believes that happened as a result of greed and poor decision making by the NFL:

“Well you know, I didn’t throw the Super Bowl. Players didn’t get no money for it, so you figure it out. But no, I’m talking about the same people that want to file a claim because they say we’re not negotiating right, we want to take a billion off the top, we want to make us pay for being a running the football team, the same people that say we want the CBA to expire when we’re not going to have any insurance. Those people. Those bright people. Those so compassionate, sympathetic, considerate human beings that decided when you built this building which is supposed to be the most spectacular in the world which holds enough people to have an exciting Super Bowl already — but you feel the need to build more seats and put more seats, and not let them pass inspection. And also you’re so considerate and such a sweetheart that you decide not to inform people before the game, so you have people driving from Pennsylvania, driving from Wisconsin, only to realize that you don’t have seats. But you know? Those are people. All those people get into heaven, so we’ll see.”

So he believes the likelihood of football starting on time next September is pretty slim at this point:

“Well I think the positive in it is the deal expires in March, so if common sense prevails, you can play football in September. It’s not one of those situations where they can kind of slow boat it until the deal is up in August, you don’t have a deal and now you’re scrambling to try to get it done. I mean you have months and months to get a deal done. I’m not big on going to OTAs  and all that anyway not that I’m going into my tenth year. I mean, they can postpone it if they way. I think it’s the other things that you lose, whether it’s making sure that your insurance doesn’t lapse or if you’re going to get COBRA or you’re going to get something else. I think it’s the things like that go into it — making sure you’re getting workmen’s comp and stuff like that. So it’s the extras outside of it. And then like I said and I’ve said this many times during the Super Bowl week — if they told me…and I love football so it may be different…but if they told me you know what Ryan, whatever your salary is we’re going to give it to you even if you don’t come to work. What’s your incentive to come to work? And essentially that’s what the owners have done. When you make deals with networks that say we’re going to pay you even if you don’t play. So what’s my incentive to play when if I’m not playing, I cut my biggest overhead out which is my players, and I’m still going to make my money. So you tell me if there’s any rush for them to feel like they have to have football. But I think the NFL does a good job of posturing. Any time they make an offer — which have been totally ridiculous offers, I’m a player rep I get to hear about these offers on conference calls and different things like that — it would be like, you know what, y’all come to work, I’m going to pay you a dollar. But that’s so I can say I gave you an offer though. And that’s what’s going on. And you see anytime they’re doing anything, they make sure it’s scrolling across the bottom of ESPN, or somebody comes out and says this is what the NFL has done. But you never get numbers, you never get specifics. You say we’re losing money, we say okay as a union, we want to help in any way we can to make sure this league is prosperous, to make sure this league is going in a positive direction. Show us the books and we can figure out a way together. No, no. We can’t show you our books, that doesn’t happen. So I think that’s the thing. And with so many players and so few owners, so as the owners, you can get 32 owners together and Roger Goodell — who claims he works for us but when it came up time for him to renew his job, nobody called me, nobody was like hey Ryan is it cool, is this the guy you want? So clearly he doesn’t work for us. I don’t have his cell phone number. I have D Smith’s cell phone number because he works for us. I don’t have Roger’s. Maybe he’ll call me after this because he’s mad at me and make me come to New York or something. I just think it’s a sad deal because it’s not going the way anybody wants it. There’s no way we can back down and give them what they want, and it don’t seem like they want to give us what we want. So I’m going to be a stay-at-home dad and do radio and TV.”

Whether he thinks there’s any way that the players would accept an 18-game schedule:

“Being that I’m not the only player in the Players Association, I can’t say for certain that there’s nothing that can happen. If they do something ridiculous then maybe we have to accept it. But right now our stance right now is that we don’t want 18 games.”

On if he thinks Art Rooney III can fill the same type of influential role that his father, Dan Rooney, has played over the years during previous labor negotiations:

“Art can definitely step into that role, but Mr. Rooney is definitely still there. It’s not a situation where Mr. Rooney is gone and out of the picture to the point where Art can assume all that power that Mr. Rooney has. The respect is still going to go to…we call him Big Rooney…to Ambassador Rooney. And he knows it. I think Mr. Rooney partly knows that he has to settle this, he’s the voice of reason, he’s the voice that is respected on both sides. But you become the voice of reason because doing things in a way that’s fair for everyone. It’s not a situation where he wants the owners to get everything, but he’s also not going to let the owners be duped, he’s not going to let the owners be taken advantage of. But he does the same for the players…It’s about, come on guys, it’s about revenue sharing. But they feel like they’re not going to win that battle. So you try to fight the battle that you feel that you can win, which is against the players. Some of them don’t budget their money right, some of them haven’t had long enough careers to have enough money to sustain through a whole year of no football. Whereas owners, first of all they’re rich. But also as owners we’re going to get paid whether there’s football or not. So that’s where I feel like they think they can win because they know they’re not going to get the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars to say we don’t want revenue sharing. They’re not going to win that battle. So we feel like, you fight the battle you can win and that’s against us. So the biggest thing — we have our NFLPA meetings in March — is everyone as much as we can, if they get this type of forum, they need to be able to talk about it intelligently.”

Listen here to Clark on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh

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  1. 23 Responses to “2011 NFL Lockout: Ryan Clark Sounds Off on ‘Ridiculous’ Offers, Lack of Incentive For Owners to Negotiate Quickly”

  2. Ryan Clark is a well-spoken leader? According to this transcript, he’s not half as smart as he thinks he is. I hope the owners strong-arm these players and shut the league down. I’d love to see Ryan Clark bussing tables at my local IHOP.

    By Jason on Feb 16, 2011

  3. Yeah Jason, the heck with those lazy athletes, right? Not like the owners are raking in record profits or anything. If anything, those lazy athletes should play 18 games for minimum wage and get no benefits! Who do they think they are demanding a bigger slice of the enlarging pie, right? Comments like yours are downright sad.

    By Alex on Feb 16, 2011

  4. The player’s position: We like things the way they are. The NFL is the most popular sports league in the country and everyone makes money.

    The NFL position: You are going to play two extra games and we are going to cut salaries across the board because we want a bigger slice of the pie. If you don’t like, we’ll shut the league down.

    Clark’s absolutely right. The owners get all the TV money next year if they play or not, and if there’s a lockout they aren’t paying the players. Look forward to lots of baseball, everyone.

    By Facebones on Feb 16, 2011

  5. Jason is an intelligent commenter? According to this post, he’s not half as smart as he thinks he is. I hope the league continues to dupe these gullible nitwits and shut the league down. I’d love to see Jason whine and moan about there being no football, then be forced to pay ever-increasing fees and taxes when the season returns because the owners will continue to force fans to pay for everything.

    By Ian on Feb 16, 2011

  6. @Jason
    Ryan Clark is a well-spoken leader? According to this transcript, he’s not half as smart as he thinks he is. I hope the owners strong-arm these players and shut the league down. I’d love to see Ryan Clark bussing tables at my local IHOP.

    1. The first sentence is a declarative, not a question. Thus, you don’t need a question mark. If you’re repeating incredulously, you should add an exclamation mark and another question mark following the exclamation mark.
    2. Ryan Clark has never claimed to be well-spoken, so it appears that your shot at Ryan Clark is misguided.
    3. You assume that Clark thinks that he is smart. The transcript does not support this (at all!).
    4. You assume that intelligence can be gleaned from a transcript. This is erroneous for numerous reasons.
    5. You need a “that’ after the word “hope”
    6. You erroneously assume that Clark will work at IHOP if the league shuts down. This claim lacks merit.

    Go read a book.

    By SmarterthanJason on Feb 16, 2011

  7. Aww, how nice…a water-carrier for some of the richest people in America, logging in as both Ian AND Jason. I don’t know you, but I can pretty much guarantee your an asshole in real life. Enjoy your IHOP, you fat douchebag.

    By Ian & Jason's Dad on Feb 16, 2011

  8. The Owners are certainly wrong when they say they have given the NFLPA as much financial information as other unions usually have. Most large employers are public companies. Their AUDITED financials are available on the ‘net, the SEC reviews them, and numerous analysts write reports on them. If the Owners are losing money, where are the bankruptcies, like the MLB Rangers, and half the NHL? Why aren’t Owners selling their teams. It may well be that many Owners are not doing well in their OTHER businesses, due to the recession, and think that the easiest place to make some replacement money is at the expense of the NFLPA; but that’s not what they’re saying.

    By The Only Moderate on Feb 16, 2011

  9. @Jason
    Ryan Clark is a well-spoken leader? According to this transcript, he’s not half as smart as he thinks he is. I hope the owners strong-arm these players and shut the league down. I’d love to see Ryan Clark bussing tables at my local IHOP.

    1. The first sentence is a declarative, not a question. Thus, you don’t need a question mark. If you’re repeating incredulously, you should add an exclamation mark and another question mark following the exclamation mark.
    2. Ryan Clark has never claimed to be well-spoken, so it appears that your shot at Ryan Clark is misguided.
    3. You assume that Clark thinks that he is smart. The transcript does not support this (at all!).
    4. You assume that intelligence can be gleaned from a transcript. This is erroneous for numerous reasons.
    5. You need a “that’ after the word “hope”
    6. You erroneously assume that Clark will work at IHOP if the league shuts down. This claim lacks merit.

    Go read a book.

    @SmarterThanJason

    Shutup

    By ABiggerDoucheBagThanSmarterThanJason on Feb 16, 2011

  10. Hey Players,

    All those in a union. It was nice in 1920, but grow up. It protects the piece of shits. If this is you chime in. If not let your work give you what you deserve.

    Kevin

    By Packerbacker on Feb 16, 2011

  11. This “positioning” by the NFLPA saying the owners get paid no matter what is untrue. Yes the teams will get their share of the ad revenue upfront (like they do every year) but they will have to repay it if the commercials do not air (because there is no season.) The total ad revenue ONLY adds up to about $1.4bil as well — quite a bit less than the $3.6bil the owners receive if football is played. If Mr. Clark is buying into this argument, he is as gullible as the rest of you.

    By packerz1 on Feb 16, 2011

  12. For everyone bashing the owners/Jason:

    The players are regular guys who were given a gift and are extrememly fortunate to be in the NFL. The worst of them are making millions a year. My parents worked their butts off for real careers, and they struggle to pay the bills and put their kids through college. I want to go to the NFLPA, and say Hey, you want a real taste of what its like to have a bad deal? Try surviving in a real world for a couple days. Now shut the f*ck up and take whatever deal you are offered, you freaking crybabies.

    By Joseph on Feb 16, 2011

  13. Honestly, it’s the owners who own the team. These guys are getting offered what, 300k MINUMUM per year to go out and play? If you don’t like it, you won’t play. The owners got into the position of owning the team by being great businessmen and women, or inheriting the riches from their parents. They’re not there for nothing. Respect what the owners want to do, it’s their business. If the union doesn’t like it, then they can go sit at home and watch while people who appreciate an opportunity to earn 300k/year will play.

    By Zach on Feb 16, 2011

  14. Joseph, and everyone else. These players are lucky to play 10 years. Compared to the owners record setting revenue over an ownership like the rooneys, it’s nothing. Yes, they are rich, but your parents, mine or even you wouldn’t agree to work more hours, take on more risk and shorten your career for free while your boss got rich.

    By Josh on Feb 16, 2011

  15. Yeah, there are a lot of people who will play for 300k a year. It’s called the CFL. No one watches it, not even Canadians. Their highes selling jersey, Tom Brady (NFL), not jeff Garcia(CFL). People watch the NFL because the players are so good PERIOD. Not because their team loyalty. I.e. Steelers attendance VS pirates attendance.

    By Josh on Feb 16, 2011

  16. First of all, the fact that whoever transcribed Clark’s interview has absolutely no conception of anything related to grammar or spelling has nothing to do with whether Clark is well-spoken. He didn’t type it, he said it.

    Secondly, yes it’s easy for us to say “stop whining and go play.” But if a CBA is not reached, there will be a lockout (owners refusing to let players play) not a strike (players refusing to play.) How are the players the “greedy” ones when the owners, who make MORE money, are the ones who want EIGHTEEN percent more of the pie? EIGHTEEN. That’s 1.4 billion freaking dollars. No matter how much money you make, if your boss says “Hey, sorry, I’m gonna have to take 18% more of the company’s revenue” you don’t just roll over and say “okay! sure!” Yes, it’s hard for us to conceptualize because we don’t make billions of dollars. But if you’re the NFLPA, you don’t just take an 18% hit. I guarantee it.

    By YouGuysAreClueless on Feb 16, 2011

  17. the players like it the way it is and don’t want to negotiate. the owners want more money, i can’t side with the players, i just can’t see why they think they should be paid millions of dollars just because they can throw, or catch, or knock a fat ass off. lineman on his ass. I can see some of the reasoning on the owners part but feel like the greedy owners out weigh the few owners who want a fair deal. Depunkass Smith is in my opinion not trying to negotiate a fair deal, he is not offering any real counter offers to the ones the owners have put on the table. Nobody, players nor owners are trying to compromise. So don’t put it all on the owners, and don’t put it all on the players either. When both sides decide to start acting like adults and not children, then a deal will get done, not b4 then.

    By Rod on Feb 17, 2011

  18. Not just 18% pay cut, but go play 2 more games. Shorten your career by a year or two. Yes the players get paid a lot. But anytime a company has record profit, the key employees get a pay raise…. Not in the NFL, not only are you getting an 18% reduction, your working 12% more. Make sense?

    By Openshut on Feb 17, 2011

  19. The great and honorable Don King once said the truest words that have ever been spoken. “You don’t get paid what you deserve, you get paid what you negotiate.”

    To all of the small timers that are saying the players should simply roll over because they are getting paid millions……. Please sit down because you’re way out of your league here.

    By truth serum on Feb 17, 2011

  20. This is absolutley ridiculous. If I’m not mistaken the majority one of these players were given full rides through college. A lesser percentage actually graduated and took advantage of the educational aspect of college vs just the athletic side. One year of salary equals 3-5 years or more for the common man. I’m talking the majority of the country which is middle class. If you take into consideration that a lot of the players make millions per year that’s more than a lot of us will see in our lifetime. Take your money, hire someone that went to college and actually learned something and have them invest your money so you can continue to dumb down after your glory years are finished. You may not play forever but at least you can play Madden forever.If you’re worried about a career after football than you should have used all that free scholarship money more wisely.

    By AZPackman on Feb 18, 2011

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