Clark, wearing No. 55, joined the team’s seven other picks from the 2015 NFL draft, a dozen undrafted free agents, a few other roster members and 38 players attending on a tryout basis for what was scheduled to be a roughly two-hour workout at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
RENTON — The strongest plays of the first day of Seahawks rookie minicamp Friday came after it ended.
In separate news conferences following the workout, second-round draft pick Frank Clark reiterated that he plans to make the team proud of selecting him, and coach Pete Carroll defended both the pick and the process that led to it.
The selection of Clark, a defensive end from Michigan taken No. 63 overall, was controversial when it was made May 1 due to being charged in November with first-degree misdemeanor domestic violence. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of fourth-degree persistent disorderly conduct.
The debate only grew throughout the week as some witnesses said they did not talk to the Seahawks or offered conflicting accounts of what occurred.
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'
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- Seahawks made mistake by drafting Frank Clark | Larry Stone
- Hawks didn’t interview witnesses to ugly hotel incident involving draft pick Frank Clark
Carroll, though, said vehemently the team did its due diligence into both the background of Clark and the incident.
“There are enough facts out there that have told the story after the initial report was in,’’ Carroll said. “I think there was enough stuff if you dig in and read all of the stuff, the story that’s told by the process, the prosecution and all that, was compelling in contrast to what you read. So I don’t know what it says about police reports, but I think that was pretty … it was very telling. That just added to the story. It was one part of it that we put together to make some sense of this.”
Ultimately, Carroll said, the team hasn’t changed its stance: “The course of it showed this guy deserved an opportunity to play for the Seahawks.’’
Carroll spoke after Clark, who handled questions for roughly 12 minutes, generally appearing at ease — he thanked the media for coming when it was over — but declining to go into details about the incident.
“I want to gain the trust of everyone, all my fans, and the viewers watching,’’ he said. “Like I said, I’m not a bad person at all. I’m a great person. I’m a family person. I’m a great guy to be around, and I just want to gain the trust of the 12s and everyone else in Seahawks nation.”
Asked if there was anything that has been reported or said he would like to clear up, Clark replied: “Not really. They’re going to write what they want to write. At the end of the day, I know what happened. It’s only two people that really know what happened. The case played out how it played out, and hopefully it showed what happened, the truth of that. I’ve been honest and up front this whole time as much as I can. Everything I’ve said to the coaches, to everyone who’s questioned me about it, I’ve been honest and up front from the very beginning. That’s all I can do.”
Clark took the field shortly before 1:20 p.m, wearing jersey No. 55. He worked at defensive end, the position at which he will start his Seahawks career, sitting out for a few plays due to what he said were persistent cramps.
“It feels good to be back out here playing football, doing what I love to do,’’ said Clark, who was kicked off the team at Michigan following the incident.
Afterward, he spoke of overcoming a tough background that included being homeless for a time in the Baldwin Village area of Los Angeles when he was 11 and being sent to Cleveland for high school, and how that shaped him.
He also spoke of hoping to move on from the controversy of his arrest, acknowledging that he hopes to change anyone’s perception of him that might be negative.
“It matters because at the end of the day you don’t want to be labeled as what some call a woman beater or things of that nature,’’ he said. “But at the same time it doesn’t bother me because I know what I did and what I didn’t do. I don’t want to get into the specifics of the case, but at the end of the day the coaches and the staff here they had the faith in drafting me and they did their job in what they did and they showed faith in me.”
Carroll referred to Clark’s appearance with the media as “impressive’’ and said the team decided early in its investigation that it felt comfortable drafting him.
Carroll also said it was “important’’ for the team to send the message that “we really care about’’ the process it went through in deciding to draft Clark.
“We are going to go as far as we need to go to find out what the story is all about,’’ Carroll said. “And I think that’s what we did right from the early signals. The first thing, like (general manager) John (Schneider) has said, if a guy has had a troubled background, you are looking for reasons to take him off the (draft) board. And we did that and we went through the process and we found out what kind of kid this guy is and what happened through the process that he has been through, and we uncovered that we had a young man that deserves an opportunity.
“And I think he will continue to show you why, and we will support him through that. I think he is going to be an asset and a positive and a plus to us as we watch him develop.’’