Ryan Clark's comment regarding a culture of money is missing a big point

By Neal Coolong on May 10 2013

Steelers safety Ryan Clark is doing a media tour this week, and most recently, he made comments regarding this being a culture of money. Maybe it's not just money, maybe fame and attention have something to do with it as well.

As Steelers safety Ryan Clark finishes up his media tour, one can't help but notice the subtle-as-a-sledgehammer irony behind his recent comments.

Appearing on ESPN's First Take on Wednesday, Clark echoed the comments made by Steelers Hall of Famer "Mean" Joe Greene, adding, "The culture we have now is about money," Clark said. "The Steelers were a team that kept that away from the organization as long as possible.

"We don't have those type of people in the organization anymore because I don't think those kind of people come into the draft," Clark said. "Guys are seeing it as 'I want to play and make as much money as I possibly can.'"

Certainly, Clark's opinion on the team and how the team is conducting business is valid; he's been a part of it for the last seven years. But pointing to other "guys" wanting to make as much money as they possibly can while doing a week-long stint on ESPN as a guest analyst, as if he's separate from the issue he's decrying, is a bit too self-serving to be taken seriously.

With all due respect to Greene, he couldn't be more right; players in his day didn't talk about money very much because teams had an incredible amount of control over them. They may have complained about the amount of money they made, but A.) there was nothing they could do about it, and B.) even if there was, they were complaining in an era consisting of approximately one percent of the media coverage today.

That shows the impact men like Greene had on the game; it shaped the power and huge financial gains players can, do, will and to a point, should, make off their talents. And it shows simply players today have it far better than the players of yesterday did.

So to either point, Greene's or Clark's, the intent behind what they're saying has to be called into question.

Clark does, rightly, point out there are others who quietly conduct their business, and get the money commensurate with their talent and experience - such as Troy Polamalu and Joey Porter.

While some may feel there are various levels of "quietly" conducting business, neither of them held out while in contract negotiations. He also brought up Alan Faneca, who didn't hold out, but mentioned in 2007 his displeasure with his contract, and his desire to move on if Pittsburgh wasn't going to pay him top dollar for a guard - a market shattered by Steven Hutchinson's deal with the Minnesota Vikings in 2006.

To what extent are players to hold back when discussing their contracts when millions of fans discuss their contracts every single day? Perhaps that question alone is sufficient enough of a reason to support Clark's statement, and it's plain and obvious where Greene's comments are rooted.

But Clark's comments come as he prepares for a life outside of football (i.e. financially motivated) and Greene's come in wake of his retirement. In both instances, they had microphones in front of themselves, and their comments have been transcribed and dissected by active football-related media and a ravenous audience.

Perhaps the issue here isn't money as much as it is attention.