The Frank Clark story just won’t go away. That’s because The Seattle Times won’t let it go away.
The newspaper has produced story after story on Clark, the Seattle Seahawks’ top pick in last month’s NFL Draft who was kicked off the University of Michigan football team last November after his arrest from a domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend in a Ohio hotel.
Seahawks General Manager John Schneider and Head Coach Pete Carroll have said they did a thorough investigation into the Michigan defensive end before selecting him in the second round with the 63rd overall selection. Details from witnesses at the hotel uncovered by Geoff Baker and other Times reporters show Schneider and Carroll likely did not do as thorough a job as they claimed.
On Tuesday, The Seattle Times editorial board wrote the Seahawks “dropped the ball” with their selection of Clark. Although the board does not suggest that the Seahawks release Clark, it does want the team to conduct another investigation into the domestic violence incident “and openly discuss its conclusion.”
Buoyed by their back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, including one Super Bowl win and a heartbreaking defeat in February, the Seahawks have become the very fabric of Seattle and the state of Washington. Take a stroll in Seattle Center and downtown Seattle, and the number 12, signifying the 12th man, is everywhere. Seattle’s EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum, home to displays honoring Seattle rock legends Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, now includes a display titled “We Are 12” honoring the Seahawks. The display includes the Seahawks’ Super Bowl XLVIII Lombardi Trophy plus videos of great moments in team history and showcases the team’s efforts in the community.
Why did the Seahawks decide to take a chance on Frank Clark? It’s because the will to win can become so great it puts blinders on people. The Seahawks, still fresh from a goal-line interception that would have given them a second Lombardi Trophy, are doing everything they can to avenge that loss. They traded their first-round draft pick for All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, for starters.
By taking a chance on Clark, perhaps the Seahawks think they’ll be forgiven because of the Super Bowls and the goodwill built in that community over the years. They essentially can do no wrong in their mind.
Clark could be the pass rusher the team will need in 2016 once Bruce Irvin, whose option for that season was not picked up, becomes an unrestricted free agent. Irvin also was a draft pick with personal baggage but nothing involving domestic violence.
So from a purely football sense, the Clark pick made sense. Plus, Clark provided value to the Seahawks. Because of his arrest and his dismissal from Michigan, the Seahawks got first round value at the end of the second round.
Value in the NFL Draft is held in high-esteem by NFL teams. The Dallas Cowboys drafted Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, a first round talent who failed multiple drug tests, in the second round. Now, Gregory could possibly fill the void of Greg Hardy, the free agent pickup who is serving a 10-game suspension after a domestic violence incident while he was with the Carolina Panthers.
To Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, winning trumps money, and he’ll go to great lengths to win another Super Bowl, even if it means signing Greg Hardy, even if it means drafting Randy Gregory, even if it means trying to trade for Adrian Peterson, who was suspended by the NFL last year after charges of child abuse. The Cowboys were rumored to be in trade talks for Peterson but he remains a Minnesota Viking.
The Tennessee Titans drafted troubled wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham in the second round. For the Titans, who picked clean-cut Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick, Green-Beckham provided good value in the second round. Like Clark, Green-Beckham had first round potential, but a reported domestic violence incident at the University of Missouri, coupled with past run-ins with the law, was enough to get him kicked off the team.
That didn’t stop the University of Oklahoma from accepting Green-Beckham’s transfer. Oklahoma wanted to rebuild his reputation and make a difference in his life. But the Sooners really wanted him to play football, and they wanted him to play as soon as possible, because they wanted to win. The NCAA, however, denied their waiver request, and Green-Beckham never played for Oklahoma.
What has people upset in the Seahawks’ situation is Schneider once said they would never draft a player who hit a woman. (Schneider and Carroll maintain Clark did not hit his girlfriend in the November incident.) They also question why Schneider and Carroll stand by their investigation, even when reports suggest they didn’t do enough.
It remains to be seen if Clark will play a down for the Seahawks. If he doesn’t, you can bet that another team will pick him up. A free agent defensive end who once had first round potential? Now that’s value.
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