Steelers' Clark says media, fans overlook hard work

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The losing has frustrated the Steelers in different ways and today one of their veteran leaders lashed out in a new manner.

Safety Ryan Clark, one of the team's leading spokesmen, upbraided the local media for its coverage during the team's five-game losing streak. He also called out fans, saying they do not "understand" how hard the players work.

He also promised his frustration would be held in check.

"The one thing I'm not going to do, I'm not going to be depressed. I'm not going to go home and beat my wife, you know what I mean? I'm going to get on my knees every night and pray and thank God for the blessings I have every night."

Ryan, presented the Chief Award last season by the local pro football writers for his cooperation with the news media, turned his criticism on them.

"You watch the Eagles, you watch the big plays. 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 standard or the people that write about us are turds.

Clark posted a letter he received from a fan on the team's bulletin board in the locker room. He said the writer basically details "why we stink so bad." He invited reporters to read it but a club spokesman removed it before that happened.

"It's obviously frustrating, but it's not going to be despair," Clark said. "You get hate mail from fans, they tell you that you [stink] and all that. And that's fine, because there's a reason they watch the game.

"This year, increasingly, it's made me realize that 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 don't understand the frustration you go through. They don't understand the work you put into it every day. A lot of people think we come in here and practice a couple of hours and then go out on Sunday and go play the game. That's not how it is.

"This becomes your life, this takes over your life. We're working hard, man. None of us are going out there like I want to give up a play today. None of us are going out there like we want to lose."

Clark, as he finished last season, again is the second-leading tackler on the Steelers defense, which finished No. 1 in 2008 and ranks No. 4 today. A big difference in that defense has come in the passing game; they ranked No. 1 in 2008 against the pass, allowing only two completions longer than 40 yards. They rank 13th today and have allowed seven beyond 40 this season, five during their current losing streak.

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

Clark said he will not try to find the fellow who wrote him the critical letter he posted on the bulletin board.

"I'm not upset with the guy. I don't want to go to his house or fight him. That's his opinion and that's how he feels. I don't know what he does for a living. Whether he's an accountant. I can't go talk to him about how he crunches numbers. I can't go talk to him about how he teaches his class and things like that."

Clark, on the last year of his contract, did say he loves playing here, despite the shortcomings he pointed out.

"We have passionate fans, and I love playing in Pittsburgh. You know, I've never been in a place that cares more about their sports, their heroes . . . I love playing here. That one fan or those 10 fans doesn't discount the whole Steeler Nation."

As for those in the media who cover the Steelers, Clark said he does not blame them for critical pieces of the team in general during this losing streak. He took issue with what he termed individuals being called out wrongly.

"I think it's gotten to a point where guys are getting attacked personally,'' Clark said. "Names are being called and things like that, where sometimes it's not those people.

"When I mess up, I tell y'all. There's never a time when y'all come to me after a game and I feel like I've messed up on a play and I don't say it. Sometimes it's not me and I still say it.

"But when you start pointing fingers and saying it's this guy and it's that guy and it's wrong, I think it is unfair. As a whole have we performed the way we're supposed to? No. Do we deserve to be talked about as disappointing? Yes, we do, because we're disappointed in ourselves. Sometimes the coverage of it, especially locally, has been, I'm not going to say unfair, but it's just been wrong."


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