Ryan Clark (American football)

Ryan Terry Clark[1][2] (born October 12, 1979) is a former American football safety who played in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Louisiana State University (LSU), and was signed by the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2002. Clark has also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and for the Washington Redskins. He won the Vince Lombardi Trophy with the Steelers, defeating the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

Ryan Clark
refer to caption
Clark with the Redskins in 2014
No. 39, 25
Personal information
Born: (1979-10-12) October 12, 1979 (age 40)
Marrero, Louisiana
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:205 lb (93 kg)
Career information
High school:Marrero (LA) Shaw
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Quarterback sacks:4.0
Forced fumbles:5
Player stats at NFL.com

On January 25, 2012, Clark was named to his first career Pro Bowl, replacing the injured Ed Reed.[3][4]

He also appeared as one of the players for the fictional Gotham Rogues team in The Dark Knight Rises.

Clark has a sickle cell trait condition which made it dangerous for him to play at high altitudes, such as in Denver, Colorado.

Early yearsEdit

Clark was born in Marrero, Louisiana. From 1993 to 1997, he attended Archbishop Shaw High School in Marrero.

College careerEdit

At Louisiana State University, Clark started 36 consecutive games for the LSU Tigers football team. In 2000, he was selected to the All-SEC second team by the league's coaches. Clark ranked third on the Tigers in 2001 with 88 tackles, including 63 solo, and also intercepted three passes. He recorded five tackles, including a 13-yard sack, in the Sugar Bowl and was LSU's Special Teams Player of the Year in 1998.

Professional careerEdit

New York GiantsEdit


Clark went undrafted in the 2002 NFL Draft. On April 26, 2002, the New York Giants signed Clark to a three-year, $906,000 contract as an undrafted free agent that included a signing bonus of $1,000.[5][6]

During training camp, Clark delivered a late hit to teammate and rookie wide receiver Tim Carter that sidelined the second round pick for six weeks. Head coach Jim Fassel named Clark a backup safety and a part of the special teams unit to begin his rookie season. Clark made his professional regular season debut during the New York Giants' 16-13 loss against the San Francisco 49ers. The following week, Clark made his first career tackle as the Giants defeated the St. Louis Rams 26-21. On October 21, 2002, the New York Giants released Clark and replaced him with veteran safety Johnnie Harris.[7] On October 23, 2002, the New York Giants signed Clark to their practice squad where he would remain for the rest of his rookie season.[8]


Throughout training camp in 2003, Clark competed for a roster spot against Shaun Williams and Ike Charlton. Head coach Jim Fassel named Clark the primary backup safety to begin the regular season, behind starters Shaun Williams and Omar Stoutmire. On October 19, 2003, Clark earned his first career start and deflected a single pass during a 14-10 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7. In Week 12, he collected a season-high five solo tackle as the Giants lost 19-13 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On December 28, 2003, Clark recorded three solo tackles and made his first career sack during a 37-24 loss against the Carolina Panthers in Week 17. Clark sacked Panthers' quarterback Jake Delhomme for a seven-yard loss in the third quarter.[9] Clark finished the 2003 NFL season with 21 combined tackles (19 solo), two pass deflections, and one sack in 16 games and four starts.[10]


On May 28, 2004, the New York Giants waived Clark after signing free agent safety Brent Alexander.[11]

Washington RedskinsEdit

Clark during his initial tenure with the Redskins

On July 31, 2004, the Washington Redskins signed Clark to a two-year, $835,000 contract as an unrestricted free agent.[5] Head coach Joe Gibbs named Clark a backup safety behind Matt Bowen, Andre Lott, and rookie Sean Taylor. In Week 6, Clark became the starting free safety, alongside strong safety Sean Taylor, after season-ending injuries sidelined Matt Bowen and Andre Lott. On November 14, 2004, Clark collected a season-high 11 combined tackles (ten solo) during a 17-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Clark finished the 2004 NFL season with 81 combined tackles (65 solo) and a pass deflection in 15 games and 11 starts.[12]


Throughout training camp in 2005, Clark competed to be a backup safety against Pierson Prioleau. Clark began the season as the backup strong safety and was inactive for the first two games due to a sprained knee.[13] In Week 4, Clark became the starting strong safety after Prioleau sustained a hamstring injury.[14] Clark was inactive for the Redskins' Week 6 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs due to a chest injury.[15] On October 30, 2005, Clark collected a season-high 11 solo tackles, deflected one pass, and made his first career interception during a 36-0 loss at the New York Giants in Week 8. He intercepted a pass by Giants' quarterback Eli Manning that was initially intended for wide receiver Plaxico Burress during the first quarter.[16] The following week, Clark recorded four combined tackles, a pass deflection, and intercepted a pass by Donovan McNabb during the fourth quarter of a 17-10 win against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 9. Clark finished the 2005 NFL season 57 combined tackles (42 solo), a career-high three interceptions, two pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and was credited with half a sack in 13 games and 13 starts.[17]

While he played well for Washington and wanted to re-sign with the team, the Redskins decided to cut ties with him and signed Adam Archuleta to be their new starting safety; the signing would be cited years later by NFL Network as one of the worst free agent signings in NFL history, along with other free agent busts by the Redskins including Deion Sanders and Albert Haynesworth.[18]

Pittsburgh SteelersEdit


On March 14, 2006, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Clark to a four-year, $7 million contract that included a signing bonus of $1.65 million.[5][19] Clark was signed as a replacement for Chris Hope, who declined the Steelers' contract offer and opted to sign with the Tennessee Titans. Throughout training camp, Clark competed to be the starting free safety against Tyrone Carter.[20][21] Head coach Mike Tomlin named Clark the starting free safety to begin the regular season, alongside strong safety Troy Polamalu.

Clark (right, in hoodie) and teammate Troy Polamalu in the Steelers' Super Bowl XLIII victory parade in February 2009

On October 8, 2006, Clark recorded nine combined tackles (six solo), one pass deflection, and made his first interception as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers during a 23-12 loss at the San Diego Chargers in Week 5. He intercepted a pass by Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers during the first quarter.[22] Clark was inactive for two games (Weeks 16-17) due to a groin injury.[23] In 2006, Clark made 72 tackles playing free safety for the Steelers, along with one interception and three fumble recoveries. He played 13 games and started 12 of them, missing the final three with a groin injury. During training camp before the 2007 season, he remained a starter despite a position battle with second year player Anthony Smith.


During a 2007 game against the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High, Clark developed severe pain in his left side and had to be rushed to the hospital. It turned out that Clark had suffered a splenic infarction due to the sickle cell trait from which he has suffered since he was a child; these are usually a risk at high altitudes. Clark had to have his spleen and gall bladder removed, ending his season. He lost 30 pounds after the removal, but returned to the Steelers in 2008. Although Clark was medically cleared to play in Denver's thin air without any complications, the Steelers took the precautionary measure of deactivating him for the four games played in Denver thereafter during Clark's career with the team—a 2009 Monday Night game, a 2010 preseason game, a 2011 playoff game and the 2012 season opener.


Clark was the Steelers' recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award in 2008.[24]

Clark with the Steelers in 2013

At the end of the 2010 season, Clark and the Steelers appeared in Super Bowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers. He was a starter and recorded eight total tackles in the 31–25 loss.[25]


Set to become a free agent in the 2014 offseason, the Steelers made no attempt to resign Clark.[26] The Steelers proceeded with their plans to replace him after they signed Mike Mitchell to a long-term contract on March 11, 2014 to become the team's new starting free safety.[27]

Washington Redskins (second stint)Edit

On March 31, 2014, Clark returned to Washington on a one-year contract.[28][29] With DeAngelo Hall on injured reserve, he was named the team's defensive captain in his place.[30] He recorded his only interception of the season against quarterback Andrew Luck in the loss against the Indianapolis Colts on November 30.[31]


On February 18, 2015, Clark announced his retirement from the NFL.[32]

Personal lifeEdit

Clark is married to Yonka Clark. The couple have three children together: Jaden, Jordan, and Loghan.[33] Clark is a Christian.[34][35]

Clark was active in the community and while with the Giants, participating in the 2002 United Way Hometown Huddle by conducting a football clinic at the Highbridge Center for members of Alianza Dominicana, a local United Way agency that services families in Washington Heights. He joined forces with students from the Leadership In Public Services High School located at Ground Zero for "Operation PaintFest." Sponsored by the Foundation for Hospital Art, the participants created paintings of hope that would later be donated to the five New York City hospitals involved in the September 11th tragedies.

Since recovering from his crisis in 2007, Clark has been involved with sickle cell disease awareness, research, treatment and programming in Pittsburgh. In 2012, he announced the formation of Ryan Clark's Cure League to raise awareness about sickle cell trait and eventually find a cure.[36]

In March 2015, Clark was signed by ESPN as an NFL analyst and regularly appears on NFL Live, SportsCenter, Mike & Mike and First Take.[37]


  1. ^ "Pro Football Reference Profile". pro-football-reference.com.
  2. ^ "LSU Tigers Profile". lsusports.net.
  3. ^ "Ryan Clark added to Pro Bowl". msn.foxsports.com. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  4. ^ "Steelers' Clark goes to first Pro Bowl". espn.go.com. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "Spotrac.com: Ryan Clark contract". Spotrac.com. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  6. ^ "Overthecap.com: Ryan Clark contract". overthecap.com. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  7. ^ "Challenge and Opportunity". courant.com. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  8. ^ "Practice Squad Moves". 247sports.com. October 24, 2002. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  9. ^ "Carolina Panthers at New York Giants - December 28th, 2003". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  10. ^ "NFL Player stats: Ryan Clark (2003)". NFL.com. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  11. ^ "Transactions". NYTimes.com. May 28, 2004. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  12. ^ "NFL Player stats: Ryan Clark (career)". NFL.com. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  13. ^ "Bowen Injures Knee During Practice". Redskins.com. August 18, 2005. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  14. ^ "NFL Injury Report". deseret.com. September 29, 2005. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  15. ^ "NFL Injury List". theglobeandmail. October 22, 2005. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  16. ^ "Washington Redskins at New York Giants - October 30th, 2005". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  17. ^ "NFL Player stats: Ryan Clark (2005)". NFL.com. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  18. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSsp0rNCkYY
  19. ^ "Steeler Sign Safety Ryan Clark". APnews.com. March 14, 2006. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  20. ^ "Steelers hope to resolve safety issue against Carolina tonight". post-gazette.com. August 30, 2006. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  21. ^ "Carter Eyes Clark's Place". tribdem.com. July 31, 2006. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  22. ^ "Pittsburgh Steelers at San Diego Chargers - October 8th, 2006". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  23. ^ "NFL Injury Report". postbulletin.com. December 26, 2006. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  24. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 5, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Super Bowl XLV - Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers - February 6th, 2011". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  26. ^ Ryan Clark bids farewell to the Pittsburgh Steelers
  27. ^ Meet Mike, the Steelers' new FS
  28. ^ Smith, Michael (March 31, 2014). "Ryan Clark heads to Washington". NBCSports.com. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  29. ^ Hanzus, Dan (March 31, 2014). "Ryan Clark, Washington Redskins agree on 1-year deal". NFL.com. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  30. ^ Maske, Mark (October 10, 2014). "Jay Gruden appoints Ryan Clark as defensive captain". WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  31. ^ "Redskins-Colts Monday Stats Pack". Redskins.com. December 1, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  32. ^ Shook, Nick (February 18, 2015). "Ryan Clark announces retirement after 13 seasons as a Steeler". NFL.com. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  33. ^ "Ryan Clark". Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  34. ^ Benjamin, Cody. "ESPN's Ryan Clark: 'Jesus Christ gave His life for us to be free'". Sports Spectrum. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  35. ^ Romano, Jason. "NEW PODCAST: Ryan Clark - Super Bowl Champion, ESPN NFL Analyst". Sports Spectrum. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  36. ^ Ryan Clark won't play in Denver. ESPN, 2012-09-04.
  37. ^ "Ryan Clark". ESPN MediaZone. Retrieved November 17, 2016.

External linksEdit