The Seattle Seahawks insist they know, and are telling fans, the true story of draftee Frank Clark’s arrest for assaulting his then-girlfriend last November: He didn’t do it.
But police and news reports make it dead solid clear that he did. As the Detroit Free Press reported last November, the girlfriend, Diamond Hurt, 20, told police that when a drunken Clark began grappling with her in their Ohio hotel room, she tried to get loose by biting his nose.
“Then she said he pushed her head into the bed, they got off the bed and he punched her in the face, knocking her back and breaking a lamp.”
Yet the Hawks claim to know better than the victim. “Our organization has an in-depth understanding of Frank Clark’s situation and background,” Hawks general manager John Schneider said last week after the team selected the 6-2, 277-pound ex-Michigan defensive end in the second round of the NFL draft.
“We have done a ton of research on this young man. There’s hasn’t been one player in this draft that we have spent more time researching and scrutinizing more than Frank. That is why we have provided Frank with this opportunity, and we look forward to him succeeding in our culture here in Seattle.”
In the past, that culture has included players who were charged with rape, assault, domestic violence and drunk driving. But Coach Pete Carroll last year promised to take in the Welcome mat for such players in the future.
Two high-profile domestic violence cases – one against Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson for whipping his son with a switch and the other a videotaped sucker punch that Baltimore running back Ray Rice used to knock out his then-girlfriend – helped drive the Hawks’ professed new resolve to pass up woman beaters in particular.
“Unfortunately, I’ve got to admit my awareness is different than it was,” Carroll said of domestic violence after seeing the Rice video. “I don’t think it’ll ever be the same as it was.”
Schneider was already on record as opposing drafting DV perps. “Suffice it to say,” he announced in 2012, “we would never, ever take a player that struck a female, or had a domestic dispute like that, or did anything like that.”
Well, since that statement, the Seahawks have signed five players who have domestic violence records. They include defensive lineman Tony McDaniels, cornerback Perrish Cox, and defensive tackle Kevin Williams.
The two latest were signed last year and just two months ago.
In 2014, the Hawks brought in linebacker A.J. Jefferson, who’d been released by Minnesota after being charged with strangling his girlfriend—picking her up off the bed by the throat. He pled guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence, and spent last season on the Hawks’ injured reserve list.
In March this year, the team signed cornerback Cary Williams. He was profiled in a seahawks.com feature that didn’t mention his off-field history. “I thought that the head coach [Carroll] was awesome,” the team site quotes Williams. “I felt like the GM [Schneider] was great as well. The D-coordinator [Kris Richard] was great….We were able to talk about anything and everything, not just football.”
Perhaps they talked about the 2010 incident that led to his two-game suspension by the NFL. Williams has not publicly discussed the details of what went down. But it was labeled in news reports as a domestic violence case.
Those signings showed the Super Bowl champs can be evasive off the field, too. Thus, no one should be too surprised that Hawks management is juking around the truth this time as well.
Their new player Clark didn’t do what he did, they maintain, because if he had, they wouldn’t have drafted him. And yes, the no-DV rule is still in effect, Schneider claimed last week, seemingly surprised anyone would think otherwise.
“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.”
Getting into specifics of the Clark case, such as revealing that “ton of research” the team did (which excluded talking to both the victim and eye-witnesses), could be counter-productive, it seems. Take this passage from the police report, replete with photos, on the night of the assault:
“Due to the visible marks and injuries on Diamond’s face and neck, her accounts of what occurred, and what [Diamond’s] brothers said they witnessed, it was determined that Frank Clark would be arrested for domestic violence.”
Not surprisingly, when an officer asked Diamond if she wanted to pursue charges. “She advised with what Frank has going on” – presumably referring to his football future – “she didn’t want him arrested.” Remorse by the victim for the abuser isn’t unusual in DV cases.
Clark was jailed and charged nonetheless, and two days later, was kicked off the University of Michigan football team.
Now he’s a Seahawk-to-be, thanks to a sudden plea-bargained reduction to disorderly conduct last month, just prior to the draft. He paid a $250 fine and walked back onto the football field a budding millionaire, his team able to proclaim he was never convicted of domestic violence.
They can’t say they’ve got a new DV policy, however. It sounds a lot like the same one.
Rick Anderson writes about sex, crime, money, and politics, which tend to be the same thing. His latest book is Floating Feet: Irregular dispatches from the Emerald City.