Charles Robinson

This just fires me up. First of all, I hate it when journalists create problems that would not otherwise exist and then pretend that they were just doing their job. Second, no organization owns its employees. Certainly the Steelers and the NFL have a right to protect their legal and public integrity but that does not trump a free individual’s decision to weigh his own health risks – especially when the organization in question can put the effort into protecting his right to make those decisions for himself rather than take the easy way out and cover their own ass. If Ryan Clark wants to play, Ryan Clark should play. Period. Here’s a copy of the letter I sent to Charles Robinson at Yahoo! Sports:

“If anything were to happen, no matter how unlikely, the Steelers would be putting themselves in a precarious spot. Not only from the standpoint of public perception, but perhaps from their own players, too.”

There’s only one person who gets to make this decision: Ryan Clark. You, Yahoo!, the Steelers, the NFL, the city of Pittsburgh, his doctors and anyone else who thinks they have a say in this man’s personal decision are wrong. If he wants to play, he plays. It’s his risk to take. Period.

The Steelers and the NFL can avoid any unwanted legal or public risk by simply making clear that Ryan Clark chose to play of his own free will. In fact, they have a duty to do this.

You clearly have not considered the well being of Ryan Clark. If he can’t play in Denver, he’s less valuable to the team and – whatever fantasy world sportswriters want to live in – in the real world that could affect his job with every NFL team in the future. What if a critical end of season game or even a playoff game in Denver loom in his future? The fact that he’s forbidden to play cannot be ignored. Certainly death is an unwanted risk but that decision rests soley on the shoulders of Ryan Clark.

Journalists need to stop pretending they have no impact on the world around them. You point out the problem of public pressure but ignore the fact that you are contributing to it and even creating it. Responsible journalism includes knowing what facts to report and how to report them but it also includes the responsibility to know when to shut your mouth. This is one of those times. Respect Ryan Clark. Respect his privacy. Most importantly, respect his freedom.