This is one instance where faith, even in an organization that has earned the benefit of the doubt in virtually all other instances, is something I just can’t muster.
Frank Clark asked Seattle fans for faith. And so, in their own way, did the Seahawks themselves.
This is one instance, however, where faith in an organization that has earned the benefit of the doubt in virtually all other instances is something I just can’t muster.
Despite the ugly reported details of a domestic violence case last November that landed him in jail for two days and got him booted off the Michigan squad, despite the welt on the side of his girlfriend’s cheek, the marks on her neck visible in police photos, the blood near the left side of her temple, Clark pleaded Thursday for Seahawks fans to not judge this book by its cover, in his words.
“Give me a couple of years and believe in me,’’ he said in a conference call from Cleveland. “I promise you — I’m saying it right now and I promise you — you won’t be upset.”
More on Seahawks’ rookie Frank Clark:
- Seahawks seemed to hear what they wanted to hear about Frank Clark | Larry Stone
- Hotel manager told police Frank Clark said, 'I will hit you like I hit her'
- Top draft pick Frank Clark makes on-field debut at Seahawks rookie minicamp
- Frank Clark speaks: "I'm going to make them proud"
- Frank Clark may face possible ban if he has future altercation
- Prosecutor: I don't believe Frank Clark punched or slapped girlfriend
- Seahawks made mistake by drafting Frank Clark | Larry Stone
- Hawks didn’t interview witnesses to ugly hotel incident involving draft pick Frank Clark
Sorry, I’m just not inclined to believe in Frank Clark. Not after reading the details of what he euphemistically calls “the incident” in a Sandusky, Ohio, hotel room.
What I do believe is that the Seahawks, who have turned bold, unorthodox, outside-the-box draft picks into an art form, uncharacteristically and inexplicably misstepped on Friday when they used their second-round pick, No. 63 overall, on the defensive end.
What I can’t for the life of me understand is why the Seahawks didn’t sprint away from Clark, a player that many teams had reportedly dropped down to the bottom of their draft boards, if not off it completely. They had other needs, and other players who could have filled them, so why hitch their wagon to a player whom they knew would instantly polarize their fan base?
Schneider and coach Pete Carroll tried gamely to explain that. Asked what they would say to people who are reviled by the brutal details in the police report, Schneider said, “How I would answer that, I would understand that; I totally understand that. I have four older sisters.
“I would say there are always two sides to a story. You have to go through the whole thing. You can’t just go with one police report. You have to talk to everybody involved. Everybody.”
The Seahawks insist they did an extensive research into the case and came away, they say, fully satisfied that Clark is a risk worth taking. But beyond that, they say they are convinced Clark did not strike his girlfriend, Diamond Hurt — a conclusion they say was vital to the selection, given the hyper-sensitivity to domestic violence after last year’s Ray Rice incident.
Prior to the 2012 draft, Schneider had been asked about the team’s policy toward players with character issues. He said they could overlook some youthful indiscretions — a category into which Clark’s other legal scrape, stealing a laptop from a dorm room in 2012, might fall.
“But suffice it to say, we would never, ever take a player that struck a female, or had a domestic dispute like that, or did anything like that,’’ Schneider told reporters in 2012.
Asked if “putting hands on a woman” was still a deal-breaker for the organization, Schneider replied, “Yeah, it still is. I can’t get into the specifics of the case, but that is still a deal-breaker for us and will continue to be moving forward.”
So the Seahawks are asking us to take on faith that their interviews — which didn’t include talking directly to Hurt, but, Schneider said, to “counselors involved with the two of them” — vindicate Clark.
Yes, the first-degree misdemeanor charges against Clark for domestic violence were eventually dismissed when he pleaded down to persistent disorderly conduct.
But the details that emerged are so sordid that it’s hard to rationalize or explain this one away. Clark’s admittance on Friday that “I was wrong, and I am sorry” does not wipe this away, especially when he follows with, “The main reason I am is because I put myself in a position where I shouldn’t have been. I’m not saying I did anything wrong as far as putting my hands on a woman, because the case played out how it did. I’m sure it reflected that.”
There’s enough evidence to believe the Seahawks’ hearts and minds are in the right place when it comes to matters of domestic violence. That’s why it is so puzzling that they developed such an irresistible “man-crush” on Clark — that’s the word Clark said his agent used to describe the Seahawks’ infatuation. And that they plunged forward with the pick despite what they had to know would be a harsh reception in many quarters.
Clark tested off the charts at the combine and his pro day, and he may well fill the Seahawks’ need for a pass-rusher.
But at what price? What do they tell their vast audience of female fans who want to know about his girlfriend’s allegations that the 6-foot-2, 277-pound Clark at one point in their altercation pushed her head into the bed and punched her in the face, knocking her back and breaking a lamp, according to the Detroit Free Press.
It comes back, once again, to faith. Carroll says the Michigan coaches were merely responding to the allegation when they booted Clark from the team, and that since then, “They’ve been very supportive. They’ve come to his aid, in telling us we’re making the right decision, that the kid is a good kid.”
Maybe Clark will prove to be a model citizen. Maybe Seahawks fans will buy into Carroll’s statement that “we would not have done this … without knowing what we were doing was right.”
That’s a leap of faith I just can’t make.