Shortly after agreeing to a new contract, safety Ryan Clark talked about staying in Pittsburgh. The following is what Clark had to say.
Ryan Clark Signing Press Conference:Opening Statement: I think the biggest thing was miscommunication early on. It was just so much stuff going on about he wants this much money, he wants to do this, do that.I really thank Coach (Mike) Tomlin, because we had some conversations.We talked about what would be best for my family, what would be best for the team and that everybody was happy.My kids are excited, my neighbors are extremely excited that they don't have to get a new neighbor. My wife's happy it worked out well.This is the place I wanted to be. Coach Tomlin used to joke with me about being a nomad, a journeyman, things like that. But if I get to finish this contract here, it will be eight years in one place.That's a huge accomplishment for me. We finally have a home.I kind of bounced around a little bit in this league. It's good to be here, it's a great place. I get to play with Troy (Polamalu), although if I left, I was going to wear 43 for him, so he was kind of disappointed about that I have to come back and wear 25, but other than that, everything's good.
If this would have happened any other time in your career, would the deal have happened like this?
I think it could have happened the same way; you just want the team that you're with just to make it competitive and show you they want you.When I was leaving from Washington, they never did that.When it came down to me leaving, Pittsburgh came calling. I really wanted to be in Washington, Washington said we're going to let you go.But here, it wasn't like that.Throughout the whole process, Coach Tomlin stayed in touch and when Will Allen signed, I was getting texts, the Steelers signed a safety. I knew before he even came on his visit. So that was one thing that made me want to stay. Also when I was down in Miami I talked to Coach (Dick) LeBeau, Coach (Ray) Horton, so it wasn't a situation of just because you left and you're going somewhere else, we don't want to be involved with you. Coach Tomlin said he was going to fight to keep me, so that in itself meant a lot to me. When you leave and go to a new place, it's a new cast of characters, it's people you don't really understand. I think that's what you have to establish is a good relationship.You know the people you deal with, and when you leave, sometimes even if you get a little bit more money is it really worth it to have to meet new people, to have to prove yourself all over again, I love being here, and I love the guys here.
When you were down there, did you think, I want to be back in Pittsburgh?
You know, it was always the situation that I wanted to be here. My mother is a praying woman, and she prayed and prayed that I could stay in Pittsburgh. My wife throughout the whole process, I told her, I didn't want to leave. When things weren't going right, I'm not the type to sit at home and say, I'm sad about this and that, but I did tell her I was disappointed that it wasn't working out where I could stay, because at a point I thought I was gone. I think when it clicked for me, I was in Miami, starting to talk contract money and to have Coach Tomlin call me and say, we're going to fight for you. To have Coach LeBeau call me and say, I don't have control over negotiations, but don't let negotiations sour you to the point where you don't understand that we want you here. That was big for me, I called my wife immediately after talking to Coach Tomlin and said book me a flight. I didn't know if I was going to have something done here, but I knew I wanted to and we got it done and it's good for everybody.
Did CoachTomlin call you at the Dolphins facility?
I've been talking to Coach Tomlin probably every other day throughout the whole process. He said he wanted to keep in touch, he wanted to let me know where he stood with everything and that was good for me. Sometimes when you hear what's going on negotiation-wise, it can sour you to be with the team. It didn't, he kept in contact with me. I talked to him or I texted him a few times in Miami.I actually talked to him on the phone once I was done in the facility. He never called while I was there, but he texted a couple of times and I talked to him afterwards, and he's like let's get it done.Coach Tomlin stayed in steady contact with me but also hearing from Coach LeBeau after negotiations started with Miami was big for me. I think a lot of people were thinkingI was trying to use Miami, but it was a situation where we really hadn't had anything worked out here. We were really talking about leaving. My wife was saying, if we leave we have to figure out what schools the kids will have to go to. When you think about that, that's a scary prospect. It was hard to make a transition to Pittsburgh. My family loves it, everybody but my little one is happy. She's just upset because she can't have a pool. She knew if we moved somewhere sunny we could have a pool.
The Miami Herald said you were going down to sign, did the Steelers reach out in time to prevent it?
Like I said Monday, maybe it was a mistake to say, I hadn't had an offer. There was nothing concrete, I never had an opportunity to reject anything or to really negotiate anything in Pittsburgh. Upon leaving, I thought it was it, honestly and the quote was true, I was going down there to get a deal done. Down there, I think negotiations with Pittsburgh went well. Meeting people in the Dolphins organization, not saying they're bad people, not saying they're good people, you just don't know them. I know what I have here. I know I have the best defensive coordinator ever. You have good people around the building who they love me, when you're coming back on the plane, you're getting texts from people you work with, not football-wise. Just throughout the building in the community. This is home now. My daughter thinks she is from Pittsburgh. I try to explain to her she is not, she was born in Louisiana. But this is where we are. We love it here. I feel like we can win another Super Bowl here before I leave. That's what I want to do.
So Miami did make an offer?
Yes. I never agreed to anything. Miami, I appreciate them. They showed a lot of interest. It was good meeting with the coaches. I think we had a lot of good dialogue. I got to meet Coach (Bill) Parcells which is kind of surreal, you think an undrafted guy, not a big-time name, having a conversation with him, it was awesome. I'll be honest, I liked it. I called my wife about four or five o'clock and said I like it and if we can get things worked out I will come here. It wasn't a situation where I was trying to use them against Pittsburgh. But in the end all things made even why would you leave? If things were close, why would you leave? If the Dolphins make you an offer and Pittsburgh said we aren't going to compete with that, we are going to let you go, you have no choice. But for your coaches to say they are fighting to keep you. For Kevin Colbert to get involved, for Mr. (Art) Rooney to get involved, to say we want you here, it was big for me and in the end that's made me stay.
Is it good to feel wanted?
It is. I kind of felt like I was in a little control for a little bit; but I really wasn't. It was good. We had a tough year, kind of why all of that stuff went down with me during the season. To talk to the coaches and for them to tell me you played great, even though this is what was seen and said, you held us together back there and we need you. It felt good and it kind of validated some of the ways I was feeling during the season about my play and our team's play. They are positive we are going to get it rolling and they said they said they wanted to get it rolling with me so it's good to be here.
Did the Dolphins try to keep you there, not let you leave without signing?
I was scheduled to come home on Monday and they said we are going to keep you here and get a deal done without going home, which is a good strategy. I went home and told my wife I think we are going to be here. Until that point I didn't have a concrete offer on what we were going to do here. As the Dolphins were working out contract things, so were the Steelers. At that point things were close between the two teams. Once I realized the Steelers are going to be competitive and make an effort to keep me here, I definitely wanted to be here. I wanted to stay home.
Do you expect more out of yourself and the secondary this year?
I do. Obviously we've got to have Troy. You can play it down as much as you want, and say the rest of us have to make plays. But Troy being out there gives us a unique look as a defense, gives Coach LeBeau opportunities to call different things. Some things look different because you don't know what Troy is playing anyway. We definitely need to get him back. We need to make more plays. I need to do a better job helping the corners be in position to make plays. The year we went to the Super Bowl and won it, BMac (Bryant McFadden) played well, Will Gay, Deshea (Townsend), Ike (Taylor) had a superb year. We need those guys to have that type of year. Troy and I need to be back there together. We need to stay healthy and play good football.
So you did know about the Will Allen signing?
Coach Tomlin was very open with me through the process. He told me he would be honest with me and I appreciated. We spoke on Friday, he gave me a call. I told him I would keep him updated. He told me they were bringing Will Allen in on Sunday and he is not a Ryan Clark replacement. I was okay with that. I understood that. I was in Washington and they said they weren't bringing (Adam) Archuleta in and he signed the first day of free agency. It wasn't that type of deal. It was honest, it was open. I actually trained with Will in the offseason. He is a very good guy. I think he will help the team a lot. Even if they were bringing him in for that reason, if they said it was going to be a competition, I feel like I could win that competition. I was good with that because Tomlin was very honest with me. I think he is going to help the team and we need a guy. Tyrone (Carter) is not back yet. I don't know if he is going to be here. We need somebody to take reps in practice and in OTAs. We need people to be ready to play for the season. If you don't have a guy here before that takes place, I think the team is hurt.
Baltimore has made some changes since last season ended
Baltimore has changed; the Bengals are trying to change. We did a good thing getting Arnaz Battle and bringing (Antwaan) Randle El back. I think he is going to be huge for us on the field, but also in the locker room. I have gotten to know him, we are going to be all right. We don't need to change much, we need to stay steady. That's what we do. The Pittsburgh Steelers don't make the big splash, they never win the offseason Super Bowl, but they won six of the real ones and that is all that counts.