WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Redskins safety Ryan Clark, who signed on to return to the organization after 9 years of playing elsewhere, questioned on Twitter Wednesday, the appropriateness of him wearing Sean Taylor’s jersey number upon his return to D.C.
Clark mentioned he’d been wearing No. 21 in Pittsburgh, but only in practice (he wore No. 25 in games), for the last six seasons in tribute to his former Redskins teammate.
Redskins fans I've worn #21 to practice for 6 years now. Would it be disrespectful to wear it in Washington?—
Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) April 02, 2014
Perhaps it was what would have been Taylor’s 31st birthday fresh in their minds, but the reaction Clark received ranged from visceral outrage to non-aggressive pushback from Redskins fans who think wearing Taylor’s number would be disrespectful of Clark, even if only in practice.
It’s worth noting, some fans were accepting of the idea.
However, in an interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Lavar Arrington and Chad Dukes, Clark decided to further clarify he only wishes to continue wearing the number in practice, and has no intentions of wearing No. 21 during Redskins games. He also seems to be going about it in all the right ways, asking the fans and team officials.
“They were just like ‘nobody should ever wear it,’ and ‘it should be retired,’ and it should be this and that,” Clark explained the resistance he was subject to. “And I understand those things. That’s why I would never ask to wear it in-game.”
“Even after this, I would have to ask Mr. Snyder, could I even wear it to practice, which is something I had planned on doing,” he said. “I talked about it today, inside the building, and they said I had to go get permission to do it.”
“More than likely, had I went to any other team, I was going to try to wear 21 anyway, or at least try,” he said. “I was actually going to try to wear it in the game. I was going to leave 25 where it was and try to wear 21, and so that was my plan, but I ended up coming to a place where I felt like that wouldn’t be cool.”
“It just shows the passion they have,” he said of those unruly fans.
Lavar, also a former teammate of Clark and Taylor — and one who is generally impassioned regarding issues of his late friend — took umbrage with those fans giving Clark grief about wearing No. 21, taking the stance that if anyone was qualified to do it, it was Clark.
Another of their former teammates, Fred Smoot, also agreed that if anyone could wear No. 21 in D.C., it would be Clark, but stopped short of defending Clark’s right to do so.
“I probably would have a problem with it, because sometimes I just think you should leave things alone,” Smoot told Lavar and Dukes. “I think it’s one of those subjects where you leave this alone.
“I think [Taylor’s] the greatest 21 to ever put on a uniform as a Washington Redskin, and you can go to the games today and it’s still packed with 21s with ‘Taylor’ on the back, and I think we should just let it stay like that.”
Ryan Clark’s thoughts on the DeSean Jackson signing:
“I think it’s going to end up being a better signing than getting Donovan McNabb from the Eagles,” Clark said. “That wasn’t a joke. That was just an honest opinion.”
“DeSean’s in the prime of his career, and the reasons the Eagles let him go, that’s with them,” he said. “That’s something they have to deal with.
“But to let a guy like DeSean Jackson go, after really having a career year, and then he goes to one of your rivals – one of your division rivals, a team you see twice a year – for me, I would have done everything, and maybe they did, to move him to where they didn’t have to see him two times a year.”