The Seahawks were not comfortable pursuing Greg Hardy once they learned the details of his domestic-violence case, but they clearly think Frank Clark is another story. And Seahawks fans should trust them — even if some self-righteous media folks want to condemn them.
Too many people fell into the trap of convicting Clark in the court of public opinion and sentencing him to life as a social pariah based on one inflammatory police report. As John Schneider said Friday, you have to look beyond the report to find the real Clark.
On 710 ESPN on Monday, Schneider expanded on the Seahawks’ investigation into Clark’s situation. Schneider said he and two other Seahawks scouts were involved in gathering information, which included talking to people in Los Angeles and Cleveland about the player’s early background, getting information from the court and counselors in Michigan and talking to other teams to see whether they had gotten similar information and viewed him the same way Seattle did. (After the Hawks picked Clark on Friday, Schneider said he got calls from three teams that were poised to grab the pass rusher in the third round.)
Schneider and the Hawks clearly think this is a one-time, out-of-character incident — and, based on their information, they don’t think he hit Diamond Hurt (despite what the police report said). Clark ended up pleading guilty to disorderly conduct — which is either an indicator that the original police report was not totally accurate or it’s a reflection of Hurt’s desire not to have him prosecuted (she didn’t want him arrested, per the police report).
With four older sisters, Schneider said domestic violence is a “big deal” to him. “If you strike a woman, you are off our board,” he said. “There’s just no two ways about it.” And he doesn’t believe Clark hit Hurt.
“He put himself in an awful situation,” Schneider told 710 ESPN. “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 obviously is soft-pedaling it. The police report indicates it was more than just yelling and screaming. Clark entered counseling after the incident, and Pete Carroll and Schneider said he plans to continue counseling in Seattle. It’s not clear whether it’s for anger or alcohol or both.
Schneider was on the Michigan campus two days after the incident, and he said people around the football program were shocked to hear Clark had been involved in this kind of situation. In the aftermath of his dismissal from the team, everyone at Michigan, including coach Brady Hoke, has spoken positively of Clark, Schneider said.
“He’s a hardworking guy who has overcome a ton,” Schneider said, pointing out that Clark was homeless in Los Angeles at age 10 and moved in with his uncle in Cleveland, where he then was mentored by high school coach Ted Ginn Sr. (father of NFL receiver Ted Ginn Jr.).
As we said the other day, people seem to forget the Hawks have brought in plenty of head cases and other guys who have had legal issues — and they have had very few problems. Fan favorite Marshawn Lynch acquired quite the rap sheet in Buffalo and was a huge character risk when the Hawks traded for him, but — aside from a DUI arrest in California that became a reckless driving plea — has kept his nose clean while a member of the Seahawks.
Time clearly wipes away people’s sensitivities. Kevin Williams and Tony McDaniel both were arrested for domestic-violence incidents several years before joining the Seahawks. No one made a stink about the Hawks signing them. And apparently Schneider doesn’t count veterans in his “hit no woman” policy.
But, in the players’ defense, those appeared to be one-time situations where arguments turned unintentionally violent — which is exactly what seems to have happened in the Clark incident.
The Seahawks took grief for checking into Hardy earlier this offseason, but Schneider said they were just doing what they always do: “We talk about being in on every single deal so we don’t miss out on something. … Once we found out what was going on with that situation, we were done. It was over. But we had to find out what happened. We opened that door, we looked inside and we slammed it.”
Then they opened the door to Clark and decided to keep it open. The Seahawks clearly do not think Clark is another Hardy, and they are willing to let Clark prove one “awful situation” should not define him.
The Seahawks have earned the benefit of the doubt, so give it to them.
OTHER DRAFT TALK
The Seahawks could have gone after a quarterback, but they didn’t have the draft capital after moving up for stud return man Tyler Lockett.
“There were some pretty cool ones that were tempting,” Schneider said. “We just got ourselves in a situation where they just didn’t last while we were there.”
Wanting Lockett, they missed out on Garrett Grayson in the third round (New Orleans) and Bryce Petty early in the fourth (New York Jets). Needing offensive linemen, they passed on Brett Hundley, who went to Green Bay with the 11th pick in the fifth.
The trade up to get Lockett was set up Tuesday, when Schneider talked to Washington GM Scot McCloughan — longtime friend and associate. Schneider said, “They wanted to move back. They wanted a lot of picks.”
The Seahawks obliged, giving up a fourth, fifth and sixth to move up 26 spots in the third round. It was a fair deal, according to the NFL trade chart, and probably a bargain: Lockett will be a stud returning kicks.
The Seahawks surely are among the teams that have reached out to LSU tackle La’el Collins, who had dinner with Buffalo coach Rex Ryan on Monday night and will meet with Miami, among others. A first-round talent, Collins went undrafted due to uncertainty over his situation, even though police have said he is not a suspect in the murder of his ex-girlfriend.
The Hawks will hold a rookie minicamp this weekend. They will practice at 1:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday.