The Seahawks’ top draft pick won’t face NFL discipline for November fracas, but disorerly conduct plea would be a factor in a subsequent incidents.
Seahawks draft pick Frank Clark won’t face NFL discipline for a hotel altercation with his girlfriend last November, but could be banned indefinitely if anything similar occurs again.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Clark’s criminal offense occurred before he was drafted by the Seahawks, making him ineligible for discipline under the league’s code of conduct policy. But Aiello added that Clark’s arrest and guilty plea to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct “would be a factor in any subsequent incident as an NFL player.’’
The policy, strengthened after last year’s controversy over the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice case, would see Clark considered a “repeat offender,” with any further violations subject to possible banishment from the league.
“It’s not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime,’’ the conduct policy states. “We are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL and is lawful.’’
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Clark was arrested Nov. 15 in Sandusky, Ohio, and charged with first-degree misdemeanor domestic violence and assault after an altercation with his girlfriend in a hotel room.
He accepted a plea deal April 10 on a lesser charge of fourth-degree misdemeanor persistent disorderly conduct. He paid a $250 fine, $100 in court costs, and jail time was limited to two days already served. The domestic-violence charge has been stricken from his record.
But the arrest, initial charge and eventual plea will follow him to the NFL and be considered in the event another violation occurs.
Once the league becomes aware of a possible violation, NFL security, private firms, or a combination of both undertakes an investigation. The league can hand out discipline independent of any court decision.
“This decision will not reflect a finding of guilt or innocence and will not be guided by the same legal standards and considerations that apply in a criminal trial,’’ the policy states.
Violations of the policy include disorderly conduct, to which Clark has already pleaded guilty. Domestic violence and assault, which he was initially charged with, carry a minimum six-game suspension without pay.
If Clark is charged with domestic violence or assault, he would face that six-game suspension if league investigators determine he violated the conduct policy. But he could also face a heftier suspension, since the policy lists “similar misconduct before joining the NFL’’ as an aggravating factor.
“Repeat offenders will be subject to enhanced and/or expedited discipline, including banishment from the league,’’ the policy states.
The league offers counseling and other resources to players and family members involved in domestic-violence incidents.