Schneider: Seahawks ‘absolutely’ believe Clark didn’t hit girlfriend
Seahawks general manager John Schneider joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” Monday morning and talked further about the team’s controversial decision to draft defensive end Frank Clark despite past allegations of domestic violence.
Schneider said the team conducted an extensive investigation into the alleged incident – and into Clark’s background – and that the Seahawks “absolutely” wouldn’t have drafted him had they not come to the conclusion that he didn’t strike his girlfriend, which he was accused of doing during a dispute in November.
Our story from Friday night has more details on the alleged incident, which immediately resulted in a domestic violence charge – it was later reduced to disorderly conduct – as well as Clark’s dismissal from the Michigan football team.
Schneider said that while the team believes Clark never struck his girlfriend, he put himself in “an awful situation.”
“I think he would admit that. I think Frank and his attorney can speak on that,” Schneider said. “The mistake is that he put himself in an awful situation. There was a lot of arguing going on and yelling and screaming and that’s why there was a disturbance of the peace and the police were called.”
Schneider said he understands the criticism and questions about Seattle’s decision to draft Clark, noting as he did on Friday that he has four older sisters and that he considers domestic violence “a big deal.” He talked about how the team is comfortable with certain types of off-the-field incidents but that others are deal-breakers, saying that “in this draft and in previous drafts” the Seahawks removed several players from consideration, including “a couple” that were chosen in the first round Thursday. He reiterated the team’s stance that hitting a woman is a deal-breaker, saying: “In my opinion, if you strike a woman, you’re off our board. I’m sorry, there’s just no two ways about it.”
Asked why Seattle didn’t draft someone else without the issues Clark comes with, Schneider said the Seahawks “knew that there weren’t going to be any pass rushers left and we needed to grab one as soon as we could” when they chose him with the second-to-last pick in the second round.
“His upside as a player is huge because he can rush inside, he can play the edge outside, he could play Sam (linebacker), he could play the 3-technique, he could play the Leo position,” Schneider said when asked about Clark’s potential. “He’s 270-some pounds, long arms and powerful and highly instinctive. They asked him to do a lot.”
Schneider got into some of Clark’s upbringing and makeup, calling him “a hard-working guy who’s overcome a ton.” He said Clark was homeless when he was 10 years old then moved from Los Angeles to Cleveland to live with his uncle.
“So he fits that mold of guys that we like that have that grit level of (having) overcome a ton of things in their life,” Schneider said. “He’s made his mistakes and we feel like our culture here that we can help this guy and continue to do what they were doing with him at the University of Michigan.”