Frank Clark and the Controversy surrounding him
There are players you hope your team doesn’t pick up. There are those who you would much rather boo than cheer through gritted teeth. Two years ago, for me and so many others, that was Frank Clark.
The Michigan defensive end was in 2015, what Joe Mixon was this draft season. Michigan gave him a dismissal later on in his final year. The dismissal came after an incident which ended with Clark in handcuffs. The charge of domestic violence was brought to the future NFL player, much to pro.
The case ended with a plea deal which struck off the domestic violence charge down to a misdemeanor. Five months later, the Seahawks made him their top pick in 2015.
The pick came two months after Clark, at one of the first opportunities to give his side or at least show some remorse, spoke at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. What followed was finger jousting towards the alleged victim and a distinct lack of accountability from Clark.
…the person involved let something get out of hand and took something further than what it was planned…I’m just saying it was a confrontation between me and one of my friends and the woman involved took it to another level that it shouldn’t have been taken to. That’s fine. I’m not throwing her under the bus. I’m not saying she did anything wrong. I’m just saying that a lot of things that happened in that room that night could have been avoided.
Clark, at his NFL audition, stood there and threw the spotlight on his “legal issue” squarely on the shoulders of the woman he was accused of harming.
That seemed to have knocked Clark from mid-rounder to undraftable.
A Selection that came with mixed feelings
The Seahawks took him in the 2nd round.
The team then took a public relations beating as more details came out around the arrest. The hotel manager where the incident occurred saying Clark admitted to hitting the woman before the cops arrived.
At the announcement of the pick, I was one of those somewhat dumbfounded by the pick. Down to nothing more than what I’d read (the above combine presser in particular) but also with the usual “we need this guy more.”
The great Nathan Ernst nailed it on Field Gulls in the immediate aftermath to the pick, which came a year after GM John Schneider had said the team would never take someone who had been involved in an incident much like Clark is connected to.
Talent to morals comparison
It was all very sour. But, from my point of view, that distaste slipped away as Clark got to work on the field.
He’s a great athlete and an excellent NFL defensive end. That clouded and, even with an asterisk next to everything he does, made me almost forget what happened before he became a Seahawk.
As Nathan Ernst said, sport is supposed to be an escape. But personalities like Clark make you consider what happens when the player doesn’t match with how you hold yourself or the standards you should.
The resurfacing of past events
That distaste for Clark as a pick and pre-draft consideration came back to roost last night.
As well as Ernst, another contributor Natalie Wiener also wrote a DV-relative post on Field Gulls in the days following the Clark pick. For some reason, inexplicable to most and bizarre to all, Clark took offense to that two years later.
writing about domestic violence is fun and risk free pic.twitter.com/XGqCQ6RvNQ
— Natalie Weiner (@natalieweiner) May 10, 2017
That was Clark’s response to the story resurfacing. It’s a screenshot as Clark quickly deleted it.
His apology was almost as avoidant of accountability as he showed in Indianapolis two years ago. We used instead of I and no personal apology forthcoming to the person who he went after. The person he verbally went after for sharing an opinion with more Seahawks fans than Clark possibly likes to realize, or more likely, cares about.
How Clark can change the narrative on him
Clark is a player who, with a chance to move past his prior indiscretions, has instead dragged them all back up in a way that carries the hallmarks of his 2015 arrest. As well as showing a distaste and level of disrespect for those who question and react, rightly, negatively to him.
That asterisk held against his production on the field has been boldened over the past 24 hours for most. That distaste I had- on video- to his pick has come rushing back. But it’s on me that it ever went away. Clouding enjoyment with reality is something that follows most fan bases in all sports. But with a fan base which is lucky to have the players on the roster that Seahawks fans have. The ability to be aware of the opposite side of the coin too. The side of the coin Clark’s character and the past indeed lies on.
He never had many on his side. After the past 24 hours, he has lost a lot more. Fool me once and all that.
The Seahawks may, in an off-season with off-field arrests and incidents already a theme, may have an old-new problem that needs addressing.