The timing of Ryan Clark’s signing had to be kismet.
The veteran safety reportedly met with the Washington Redskins in March but could not agree on a deal at the time. After weeks of negotiations, Clark announced he rejoined the Redskins on what would have been Sean Taylor’s 31st birthday. The team made the deal official Wednesday morning.
Clark and Taylor safeties forged a close friendship from 2004-05, when they made up half of Washington’s secondary before Clark went to Pittsburgh.
Per Jason Reid, “Clark helped Sean with in-game adjustments, was the player who reached out to him the most and the player who got through to him the most.”
During the Steelers run to Super Bowl XLIII, Clark wore a No. 21 practice jersey before switching to No. 25 on game days. In 2009 Clark told Mark Maske how he kept Taylor’s memory alive.
“If he has 1,000 of his hits on YouTube, I’ve probably watched 900 of them,” Clarke told Maske. “I talk about him every day. I think my teammates probably get tired of me talking about him. Anytime we’re talking about a football play, I have a story about him.”
Clark squashed the idea of wearing No. 21 with Washington when he was still in preliminary talks with the club. On Tuesday he reiterated that claim.
Birth of a big hitter
In Pittsburgh Clark developed an expensive reputation as an enforcer in the middle of the field.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound safety knocked Willis McGahee out of the 2009 AFC Championship with a legal hit. When Clark was unfairly flagged for a hit on Victor Cruz in 2012, he explained why the hit was worth it. For better or worse, Clark has always been an example of bodily sacrifice.
At the beginning of his career a coach told him he couldn’t tackle. He told the Washington Times the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants thought he was a liability, and the team subsequently cut him.
“Coach Lewis said, ‘The [player personnel people] just don’t think you can tackle,’” Clark said. “‘They don’t think you can fill the hole and make the tackle.’”
The Redskins picked up Clark in 2004. He made the roster in training camp and came to be known by teammates as a fearsome defender.
“I’ve never been scared to hit,” Clark told the Washington Times in 2005. “I go up and try to hit. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I lose. Lately, I’ve been winning more than losing. I had a good friend tell me, ‘You’re either going to be the hammer or the nail.’ I might be a small hammer, not a sledgehammer.”
The ‘small hammer’ also coincided with the golden years of the Clinton Portis press conference era. Here he is as “Pied Piper Piccolo”
Twitter was a happy place in digital Redskins land on Tuesday.
This Uproxx quick-fire questionaire offers two pieces of crucial information: Clark has seen Justin Bieber in concert twice, and he’s in love with Lisa Turtle from “Saved By the Bell.”
This gif’s for you, Ryan.
Tags: Ryan Clark, Sean Taylor
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