Frank Clark said Wednesday an incident such as his fight with Germain Ifedi in practice earlier this month won't happen again.
Almost two weeks after punching teammate Germain Ifedi, getting thrown out of practice and essentially suspended for another one, Seahawks defensive lineman/linebacker Frank Clark met the media and expressed regret for the incident.
Clark had not been made available to the media since the incident but talked at length Wednesday about what led to the fight and his eventual apology to Ifedi and the team. Clark said a similar situation won’t happen again.
“The biggest message was just letting them know how remorseful I was,” Clark said of what he told his teammates. “I just wanted to let them know that I was actually sorry, and I really wanted to let Germain know that I was sorry, besides the team. That was my biggest thing, I just wanted to let him (Ifedi) know that it was my fault and that I would never let it get to that point again. I’m sure that it’ll be heated again; it’s football, it’s offensive line and defensive line, but you have to be aware of those situations and know how to take your actions out another kind of way.”
While such an incident — essentially a one-punch knockout of one teammate by another — would always attract attention, this one drew even more due in part to Clark’s history. He was a controversial draft choice by the Seahawks in 2015 after having been dismissed from Michigan following his arrest in connection with a domestic-violence incident. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct.
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Clark said Seahawks general manager John Schneider asked him after the punch of Ifedi if the team needed to remind him again of his need to adhere to the responsibilities of being an NFL player.
“Schneider, the one thing he came up and said, ‘Do we got to have another one of those conversations?’ ” Clark said. “And the first thing I said was, ‘Nah,’ because at the end of the day you know, three years in, I understand. I understand now what it takes to be a part of this team and what it takes to be a part of the NFL. And any action after that, it can be based off impulse or anything, but I think you have to limit those things. You have to focus the game toward your craft and towards practicing things like that.”
Clark punched Ifedi during a tussle that initially didn’t involve either player. The incident began when backup defensive tackle Rodney Coe and backup offensive lineman Will Pericak got tangled during a one-on-one drill, with Coe appearing to throw Pericak over a water cooler. That led to players on both sides of the ball pushing and shoving and finger pointing and then ultimately to Clark’s punch.
“It was more of a heat-of-the-moment thing,” Clark said. “I let my emotions overcome the situation. For a brief moment, I thought that myself really, that I was bigger than the team in all regards. I thought about myself first before I thought my defense as a whole, and my defensive line to be more specific because it was a one-on-one drill. That’s basically it, it was an overheated thing. … It just got taken too far, that’s all.”
Clark said he and Ifedi, who has not been made available to the media since the incident, are on good terms.
“Yeah, I believe we are,” Clark said. “We’ve had multiple conversations, with myself and the team. I believe some of our guys have said it; this is my first time talking, but yeah I had apologized to my team right after the altercation, and I also apologized to Germain Ifedi more personally on a personal level. That was my goal in the whole thing to just getting it past us and working towards the season.”
Clark sat out the next day’s practice, what coach Pete Carroll called “a coach’s decision.”
Clark was limited in future practices with a brace on his knee. Clark said Wednesday he was suspended for only one practice and that any other time he missed was due to the knee. Clark said he suffered a grade one MCL sprain during that same practice — he said it was not a result of the fight.
He recovered well enough that he played 10 snaps in the preseason opener Sunday against the Chargers but he said he is not 100 percent.
“I’d call myself about 85-90 percent right now,” Clark said. “Not quite 100. At the end of the day, 100, to me is whenever I do everything at 100 miles per hour. You turn on the film and see how I play. I mean, right now, however, I feel like I can be that way by game time and for sure, by the start of the season.”
As for how he got hurt, Clark said: “Yeah, just another play. That is unfortunate, but like I said, the type of player I am, I don’t play with the thought of an injury in my head. I just go 100 miles per hour every play. … I know exactly when I got hurt. I’m saying, in the heat of the moment when you have an adrenaline rush and there are things going on, you don’t realize certain things may be hurt on your body. I have broken fingers and strange things and not realized they were broken until after the game just based off the adrenaline.”
When the team drafted Clark, team officials said he would be held to “a very (high) standard of expectation.” The one-day suspension of Clark from practice makes clear Clark didn’t meet it that day. Nor did the team like a tweet Clark sent in May disparaging a female reporter.
Clark, though, said he doesn’t feel as if he is running out of chances with the Seahawks, who did like the 10 sacks he produced last year in his second NFL season.
“I don’t really have a fear,” he said. “I’ve learned everything is in God’s plan, so everything is going to work out how He chooses to work out in my destiny and in my favor. All I can control is getting up every day, you know coming in and doing whatever my coaches ask of me and whatever my teammates ask of me.”