Ryan Clark (American football)

Ryan Clark

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Clark with the Redskins in 2014.
No. 21, 25
Position: Safety
Personal information
Date of birth: (1979-10-12) October 12, 1979
Place of birth: Marrero, Louisiana
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight: 205 lb (93 kg)
Career information
High school: Marrero (LA) Shaw
College: Louisiana State
Undrafted: 2002
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Tackles: 643
Quarterback sacks: 4.0
Interceptions: 16
Forced fumbles: 5
Player stats at NFL.com

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.

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. Clark is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Early years

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

College career

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 career

New York Giants

In 2002, Clark was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Giants. Clark played for the Giants for two seasons. He played in the first six games of the 2002 season for Giants, all on special teams. He was waived during the bye week and signed with the practice squad two days later, remaining there for the rest of the season.

Clark had a breakout season with the Giants in 2003, starting four games and appearing in every game, either on defense or special teams. He posted 23 tackles (17 solo) and one sack, two pass deflections and five special teams stops.

Washington Redskins

Clark during his initial tenure with the Redskins.

He signed as a free agent to the Washington Redskins prior to the 2004 season. He stepped in for injured safeties Matt Bowen and Andre Lott early in the season and played in 15 games, starting 11. He led Redskins defensive backs with 91 tackles and ranked fourth on the team in tackles.

Clark played in thirteen games in the 2005 season making 57 tackles and three interceptions. 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.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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

He signed with the Steelers as a free agent on March 15, 2006 replacing former safety Chris Hope who signed with the Tennessee Titans.

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.[5]

Clark with the Steelers in 2013.

To honor his former Redskins teammate, the late Sean Taylor, Clark wears Taylor's #21 during practices.[6]

Set to become a free agent in the 2014 offseason, the Steelers made no attempt to resign Clark.[7] 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.[8]

Second stint with Washington

On March 31, 2014, Clark returned to Washington on a one-year contract.[9][10] With DeAngelo Hall on injured reserve, he was named the team's defensive captain in his place.[11] He recorded his only interception of the season against quarterback Andrew Luck in the loss against the Indianapolis Colts on November 30.[12]


On February 18, 2015, Clark announced his retirement from the NFL.[13]


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.[14]

In March 2015, Clark was signed by ESPN as an NFL analyst and regularly appears on NFL Live, Sportscenter and Mike & Mike.[15]


  1. "Pro Football Reference Profile". pro-football-reference.com.
  2. "LSU Tigers Profile". lsusports.net.
  3. "Ryan Clark added to Pro Bowl". http://msn.foxsports.com. Retrieved 25 January 2012. External link in |work= (help)
  4. "Steelers' Clark goes to first Pro Bowl". http://espn.go.com. Retrieved 25 January 2012. External link in |work= (help)
  5. http://www.edblock.org/sites/default/files/pdf/34_alumni.pdf
  6. Ryan Clark bids farewell to the Pittsburgh Steelers
  7. Meet Mike, the Steelers' new FS
  8. Smith, Michael (March 31, 2014). "Ryan Clark heads to Washington". NBCSports.com. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  9. Hanzus, Dan (March 31, 2014). "Ryan Clark, Washington Redskins agree on 1-year deal". NFL.com. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  10. Maske, Mark (October 10, 2014). "Jay Gruden appoints Ryan Clark as defensive captain". WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved 2014-10-12.
  11. "Redskins-Colts Monday Stats Pack". Redskins.com. December 1, 2014. Retrieved 2015-01-02.
  12. Shook, Nick (February 18, 2015). "Ryan Clark announces retirement after 13 seasons as a Steeler". NFL.com. Retrieved 2015-02-18.
  13. Ryan Clark won't play in Denver. ESPN, 2012-09-04.
  14. "Ryan Clark". ESPN MediaZone. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
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