Full credit to Ryan Clark for being open about marijuana use among some members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, even if his Thursday appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” was self-serving to some degree.
At age 34, Clark has to realize that his career as an NFL safety is nearing its natural end, so he continues to take opportunities to show off his media skills. This week’s spot on the Skip Bayless-led yakfest is Clark’s latest attempt to make a name for himself on sports TV – although it’s probably his most controversial bit to date.
I don’t have the slightest problem with Clark looking to make a second career out of punditry, but he missed an opportunity to show he has what it takes to succeed as a media personality.
As my colleague Matt Shetler wrote yesterday, Clark’s outspokenness on cannabis will likely end his Steelers career. While I think it benefits the public to know that some NFLers smoke pot to alleviate the oft-debilitating pain that pro football propagates, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and is a banned substance according to the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Maybe some other NFL team will take a chance on Clark, but I have a hard time believing the Steelers bring him back for his ninth season in black and gold. Clark’s departure was probably a fait accompli, but his revelations about teammates’ purported drug use likely eliminated any doubt.
However, his football career notwithstanding, if Clark wants to prove he won’t be afraid to speak his mind if given a microphone full-time, he could’ve taken his screed a step further.
You may argue that by bringing marijuana’s pain-relieving effects into the national conversation, Clark did enough to inspire more people to have an open mind about the stigmatized drug. After all, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll have also mentioned cannabis’ potential as an alternative treatment in recent weeks, so the ball is already rolling in the direction of additional research.
As Clark said on ESPN, a lot of NFL players are turning to weed to avoid having to use more powerful drugs like Vicodin, an opioid that can be debilitating if one becomes dependent on it. Still, he came up a little short of taking the next step.
Although he tweeted that he’s never used marijuana and doesn’t think he ever will, Clark could’ve been progressive by saying it’s high time for sports leagues and governing bodies to take a closer look at marijuana.
Clark always goes for the big hit on the football field, but he seemed to shy away from it in the TV studio this week.