RICHMOND — The evidence linking repeated concussions and brain injury has never been greater. But it’s not strong enough to persuade Redskins safety Ryan Clark to rethink his hard-hitting approach to the game, much less walk away from football altogether.
“It’s a dream, and this is what we decide to do,” Clark said of playing in the NFL. “And if you love it, you do it. The stuff you deal with in the end, you deal with. And that’s the way God planned it. God gave us these talents, and He put us in this position. Who am I to question where God has put me?”
The topic came up Sunday, when Clark, 34, who re-signed with the Redskins in March, was asked whether he had spoken to fellow safety Brandon Meriweather about reining in his notoriously aggressive tackling style.
Clark said he hadn’t, noting that he has been involved in some of the biggest collisions in football himself.
“You’re supposed to play this game with reckless abandon,” said Clark, a 13-year NFL veteran and member of the top-ranked defense that helped the Pittsburgh Steelers’ to the 2008 season’s Super Bowl championship. “I think when you don’t play it full speed, when you don’t play it as physical as you could possibly play it, you leave yourself at a disadvantage. You put yourself in harm’s way.”
Meriweather, 30, a two-time Pro Bowl safety, was docked more than $100,000 in fines last season and suspended for one game for a series of illegal hits that cost the Redskins precious yards, injured opponents and may prove to have ramifications for Meriweather’s own long-term health.
“We’ve talked about it in the sense of him keeping his money and a sense of him staying on the field,” Clark added about his conversations with Meriweather, who views him as a mentor. “But some of us understand the risk we take when we play this game.
“ … I’m going to try to talk him out of as many fines as I can this year. But I don’t want him to change his game. I want him to lower his strike zone the best he can because that’s the rule. But other than that, man, ‘Just keep playing football.’ ”
Washington practices on Monday at 8:35 a.m. in Richmond. Here’s our camp guide.
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