"This is the worst, period, point blank," Clark said.
The league fined Clark $40,000 for what the Steelers safety felt was a perfectly normal play and left him wondering if the NFL has gone too far in policing dangerous hits, particularly ones doled out by the Steelers.
"There wasn't anything malicious about it," Clark said. "It wasn't a spear. It wasn't a forearm to the head. It wasn't any of those things and to be fined $40,000 for that? To me it's either targeting me as a single player or it's targeting this team."
The Steelers have been fined 13 times for more than $182,000 this season, with Clark's latest the biggest of the bunch.
Coach Mike Tomlin notified Clark of the fine on Monday, though Clark says referees never offered him an explanation for the flag and he believed he would get a reprieve after league officials got a look at the tape.
Clark remains baffled by the interpretation of the hit on Dickson and said Tomlin used tape of the play as an example of how to dislodge a receiver from the ball.
"We looked at the film and watched it and I went back and watched it and if you slow it down it's as picture-perfect of a tackle as you can make," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said.
Tomlin rallied around Clark, saying in a statement he felt the fine was "excessive" and "Ryan has my full support if he chooses to appeal this in any way."
Clark hasn't decided whether to ask the league to take a second look, mostly because of the way the process is handled.
The players can appeal to former NFL coaches Art Shell and Ted Cottrell, who are paid by the league and the NFL Players Association to handle such cases. Their appeal must be heard by the second Tuesday following notification of the discipline. Goodell can become involved in the process at any time.
The Steelers aren't into conspiracy theories, but they're also the only team in the league that voted against the CBA. Clark, who serves as the team's union player representative, believes NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith should get involved. His teammates don't think it's a bad idea.
"That's his job. I think he should do something because right now it seems like they can do whatever they want to," linebacker James Harrison said.
The NFLPA did not immediately return a request for comment from The Associated Press.
Regardless, Clark argues if the hit against Dickson was against the rules, he's not sure what's legal anymore.
"Am I supposed to let him catch it and then wait for him and hug him?" Clark said. "Should I throw a pillow at him? Should I blow a whistle? 'Hey look, I'm about to tackle you.' No, that's not football."
Clark also threatened to go out and blatantly earn the fine next time.
"So it's going to turn into if you're going to fine me $40,000, I might as well put him to sleep for real or I might as well blow his knee out," Clark said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press