Ryan Clark's Hit on Willis McGahee Was Perfectly Legal and Clean
Now, there are a few things paramount to this discussion that should be set straight.
First of all, it is not illegal for two helmets to touch. It seems like many fans believe when helmets hit against each other, it's an automatic flag. This couldn't be further from the truth. Helmets hit on many, many plays. The situation last night has been recognized much more than most because it was a devastating shot, McGahee laid motionless for a while, and it was an AFC Championship game.
Secondly, illegal helmet-to-helmet contact occurs when a player uses his helmet as a weapon on a defenseless player. Think of a quarterback standing in the pocket, looking downfield. Also, think of a receiver whose eyes are on the football when it's in mid-air. These are situations where you will see a penalty called.
When a ball-carrier has the football in his possession, and is running downfield, he can see the defenders. At this point, an approaching defender has absolutely zero chance of knowing where his opponent's helmet will end up -- especially considering how high-speed a game football is. As you can see in the slow-motion replay, Clark actually leads with his right shoulder. As impact was eminent, McGahee lowered his helmet just a bit. I'm not blaming McGahee, because it's natural to attempt to protect yourself when a potential hit is on the way. What I am saying is that the helmet-to-helmet contact was caused just as much by McGahee's lowering head as it was by Clark. You can't penalize a defender for not being able to predict what the offensive player will do. If the officials start making calls of this nature, it sets up an inherent advantage for the offense.
If Clark gets fined, it won't be a large figure. I, obviously, don't think he should, but the commissioner has been pretty liberal with fines this season. As for a possible suspension? That's just ludicrous. I outlined above why I believe the hit was clean. Even if you disagree and think the hit was illegal or dirty, it most certainly wasn't egregious enough to warrant a suspension.
This is football. It's a vicious contact sport. It sucks that McGahee suffered a concussion, but that doesn't make the play itself illegal. It most certainly doesn't make Ryan Clark a head-hunter or thug or anything of that nature. He's a football player who made a football play. End of story.