Clark admits he's crazy about football Redskins receiver won't temper act

December 03, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- Gary Clark says he knows what his teammates think of him.

"They think I'm crazy for some reason," the Washington Redskins wide receiver said yesterday.

He pleads innocent to the charge.

"I'm not [crazy], I'm hyper. I yell at everybody," he said.

Clark, noted for his fiery temper, did nothing to change the image that he's somewhat different Sunday when he kicked over a bench behind the sidelines after catching his first touchdown pass since Oct. 18 in the 41-3 victory over the Phoenix Cardinals.

It's nothing new for Clark to throw a tantrum when he misses a pass or when a pass is overthrown, but it was unusual even for him to do it after making a big play.

Clark got so many questions about his explosion that he finally agreed to talk to reporters yesterday for the first time in several weeks about his subpar season.

He said he exploded Sunday because his touchdown catch was "long overdue" and that it should have been his second one in the game because he dropped one earlier over the middle.

Clark also took blame for his frustrating year, defended quarterback Mark Rypien and said that off-the-field problems including an arrest earlier this year and the fact his contract is expiring have nothing to do with the fact he's dropped about 10 balls this year.

He said his problems were due to the "kindergarten mistake" of not looking the ball into his hands.

"If you don't watch the ball in, five times out of 10 you're going to drop it," he said.

Clark also said Rypien's gotten too much of the blame this year.

"He's a tough guy. I go down to the wire with Mark. People talking about he should be jerked [out] and all that is so stupid. I think he's taken too much heat," he said.

Clark said it's the receivers' job to catch the ball. "As a little kid, you're taught that if you can touch it, you're supposed to bring it down," he said.

Clark, 30, who leads the team with 48 catches for 724 yards, said he's still betting he's going to reach his annual goal of about 70 catches and 1,000 yards in receiving.

"I think I'm a heckuva receiver. I don't think there are many receivers in the league better than I am. To be quite honest, I don't think anybody is better than I am. With the exception of Jerry [Rice], I'll put my stats up against anybody," Clark said.

He has 533 catches and needs eight to tie Kellen Winslow for 20th place on the all-time list. He said his goal is to eventually surpass teammate Art Monk, who is No. 1 on the with 841.

Rice, who's caught 586 passes, leads all receivers in the salary derby at about $2.5 million a year. A good finish would help Clark, who makes $850,000 this year, in contract talks at the end of the year.

But Clark said he's not pressing to get a big contract and that he thinks the Redskins won't let him get away.

"I think the Redskins even with my crazy temper or whatever, I think they want Gary Clark here," he said.

Clark also said the incident during training camp when he was charged with auto theft and possession of a vehicle with an altered serial number after he was stopped by police didn't affect his performance. He said he purchased the vehicle not knowing it was stolen and all charges later were dropped.

"I never really worried about it. I was brought up that if you didn't do nothing, you had nothing to worry about. I never took it seriously. I just thought I'd got taken," he said.

He was upset that his mother, Mabel, was mentioned because her name was on the car's registration and that it tarnished his image as a role model.

"What makes me so mad is there's not a lot of black role models for black youth and I'm considered one of those role models and that showed me in a negative light. Once something like this is written, you can never take it back," he said.

Clark also said he didn't think coach Joe Gibbs was referring to him a few weeks ago when he said players who couldn't practice might not play. Clark, who hasn't missed a practice since then despite his sore hamstrings, gets along with Gibbs.

"I'm fortunate. He puts up with what a lot of other coaches probably wouldn't put up with. I yell at everybody. But when it's time for me to shut up, I shut up. Don't get me wrong, I don't cross the line. I come right up to the line, but I won't cross it or Joe will get my butt out of here," he said.

Clark also thinks the Redskins can salvage this season with a great finish.

"I'm not a betting man, but I wouldn't bet against us," he said.

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