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Seattle Seahawks Face Criticism Over Draft Pick

Friday, May 08, 2015


The 2015 NFL draft is now in the books and the grades are out. While most pundits agree the Seattle Seahawks had a successful draft, bolstered by the swap of their first round pick with the New Orleans Saints for stud tight end Jimmy Graham, how 12's ultimately grade out the Seahawks draft will depend on how they view, arguably, the most controversial pick in this year’s draft class. After selecting Michigan DE Frank Clark in the second round, the Seahawks are answering questions and skepticism leveled at the team for reaching for a player that many had slotted as a mid-round selection. And they have also invoked questions and skepticism concerning their vetting of the domestic violence accusations surrounding Clark. 

The accusations are dark. A woman lying semi-conscious on a hotel room floor, cradling her battered head in her hands. Four witnesses, including two of the victim's siblings, claiming they confronted the irate and intoxicated Clark as he attempted to leave the room following the alleged assault. One of the four was even reported to have actually witnessed Clark beating the woman. But what took place in that room prior to hotel security and law enforcement's arrival is open to speculation. What is not subject to speculation is that Clark was arrested, charged with two counts of first-degree misdemeanors for domestic violence and assault, and promptly dismissed from the Michigan football team. Those actions alone would seemingly have taken him off of the Seahawks draft board. Especially when you consider GM John Schneider's repeated insistence that no player that strikes a woman would ever be on the Seahawks roster on his watch. Domestic violence, according to Schneider, "would be a deal breaker." Yet, a young woman whose face was battered while she was staying in a hotel room with Clark, and assault charges filed against Clark (later reduced in a plea agreement to disorderly conduct), were not a deal breaker for Schneider and the Seahawks in selecting him with the 63rd overall pick. A move that would have still raised some eyebrows had Clark not had the assault allegations.

For their part, Schneider and Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll have been adamant in defending both the pick of Clark and his character. Both have claimed an absolute belief that Clark never put his hands on the young woman, with Schneider citing how "shocked" those involved with the football program at Michigan were over Clark's arrest. Schneider went on sports media to relate, repeatedly and almost verbatim each time, how he arrived in Ann Arbor right after the arrest and was "struck by how shocked everyone was." While those in charge of the Michigan football program may have been shocked, they certainly did not seem to put much stock in Clark's denial of guilt, as he was dismissed from the team within a few days of his arrest. By his own admission, it was that shock displayed by those on the Wolverines’ staff that gave Schneider the confidence to go ahead and select him. And by all accounts, the Seahawks brass never attempted to verify any of the witness statements of the incident by interviewing those present. One could make the argument that if the Hawks brain trust doesn't know the truth, it's because they don't want to know the truth. 

Every player in the draft comes with a certain amount of risk attached to them. Many come from the mean streets where violence, substance abuse, and living just outside the law are a part of everyday life. Most have been told from an early age that they are special and that the rules don't always apply to them off the field. And being successful on the field is the only thing that matters in the National Football League. But with the Clark selection, the Seahawks are assuming all the risk of a PR hit, a media backlash, and potentially alienating some of their fan base. Even in the win-at-all-costs NFL, that amount of risk would seem reserved solely for a game changing talent. Maybe even a once in a generation talent. And I doubt anyone in the Seahawks organization sees Frank Clark as either of those.

So does the potential reward of Frank Clark's play on the field outweigh the risk of losing the moral high-ground that the Seahawks brass claim governs their player personnel moves? Or does moral high-ground even exist in the National Football League? Those may be the questions being asked now as the media beats its collective chest and demands to know the lengths that Schneider and the Hawks went to in vetting the Clark assault allegations. But I doubt those will still be the questions being asked by the media, or 12's, when the Seahawks start racking up wins this season. In the NFL, winning makes everything alright. Even if you're winning with an accused woman beater on your team.

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.


Related Slideshow: Oregon’s Most Devastating Sports Injuries

Here is GoLocalPDX's list of Oregon's most devastating injuries that have occured within the past 10 years.

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Greg Oden

Sept. 2007 — Micro fracture surgery on right knee

Dec. 2009 — Fractured left patella 

Nov. 2010 — Micro fracture surgery on left knee

Dec. 2011 — Arthroscopic surgery on right knee

Unfortunately, Trail Blazer fans everywhere already know how drafting Greg Oden over Kevin Durant worked out for their team. After being be the #1 selection in the 2007 NBA Draft, Oden was never able to play a full season due to ongoing knee injuries. The team eventually waived him in March of 2012.

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Dennis Dixon

Nov. 2007 — Torn left ACL

During the 2007 season Dixon had the Oregon Ducks as the #2 team in the country. That was until he suffered a torn ACL against Arizona State and attempted to play on it the following week against Arizona. After Dixon went down for the season the Ducks lost their remaining two regular season games. Fortunately, they were able to end their season on a high note with a victory over South Florida in the 2007 Sun Bowl.

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Brandon Roy

Sept. 2008 — Cartilage removed from left knee

April 2010 — Meniscus tear in right knee

Jan. 2011 — Arthroscopic surgery on both knees

Brandon Roy is perhaps one of the most beloved Trail Blazers in the history of the franchise. After being drafted in 2006, and leading the team out of the "Jail-Blazer" era, he had to make the tough decision to retire at the young age of 28. His degenerative knees prevented Rip City from seeing their superstar ever play to his full potential.

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Jacquizz Rodgers

Nov. 2008 — Grade II separation of the acromioclavicular joint

During the second to last game in 2008 Jacquizz Rodgers suffered a separated shoulder that ended his season. Unfortunately, this meant that he wasn't able to play in the Civil War, which was perhaps the biggest game of the year for the Beavers. If the Beavers had been able to defeat the Ducks they would've been able to book their tickets to play in the Rose Bowl. Instead, they went to the Sun Bowl where they defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers.

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James Rodgers

Oct. 2009 — Torn left ACL

After participating in only 4 games during the 2009 season Rodgers went down with a torn ACL while playing against #9 Arizona. This couldn't have come at a worse time for Rodgers considering he was expected to have a breakout season. Rodgers, who was a senior at the time, was able to end his career at Oregon State as the career leader in all-purpose yards.

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Joel Pryzbilla

Dec. 2009 — Ruptured right patella tendon and dislocated patella

In December of 2009 the Trail Blazers' backup center, Joel Pryzbilla, was lost for the season with a ruptured and dislocated patella. This was a huge blow to the Trailblazers' frontcourt because they had already lost Oden for the season a few weeks before. Pryzbilla was also the team's defensive anchor who provided an inside presence. "The Vanilla Gorilla" was sorely missed for the rest of the year.

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LaMichael James

Oct. 2011 — Dislocated right elbow

The 2011 season couldn't have started any better for LaMichael James. After the first game James became Oregon's career rushing leader, surpassing Derek Loville. During the second game he rushed for over 200 yards against Missouri State. Unfortunately, James' year was slowed by a dislocated elbow suffered against Cal. Luckily for Duck fans he was able to return to end the season.

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Nate Costa

Nov. 2010 —Torn Right ACL

After suffering a multitude of knee injuries throughout his career at Oregon Costa was forced to officially retire from football after tearing his ACL for the third time in agame against Washington. Although Costa's career was hobbled by injuries many of his teammates looked to him as their leader. Oregon's coaching staff referred to Costa as the "heart and soul" of the 2010 team that won the Rose Bowl.

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Sean Mannion

Oct. 2012 — Torn Left Meniscus

During the beginning of the 2012-2013 season, Sean Mannion was enjoying one of his best as a Beaver. Unfortunately, he tore his left meniscus against Washington State that resulted in him missing around half the season. With Mannion leading the way the Beavers had the Pac-12's fourth rated offense, averaging 459.5 yeards per game. With Mannion sidelined Cody Vaz became the starting quarterback

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Marcus Mariota

Oct. 2013 — Partial MCL Tear

Marcus Mariota is widely regarded as one of the greatest Oregon Duck quarterbacks to ever play at Autzen. Unfortunately a knee injury hobbled his sophomore season. After Mariota suffered a partial MCL tear against UCLA he conintued to play the remainder of the season. With Mariota's knee not allowing him to be as mobile as he was accustomed to teams were able to take advantage. In the weeks following the injury the Ducks suffered losses to Stanford and Arizona. Duck fans everywhere would like to know what that season woud've loked like if Mariota had stayed healthy.

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CJ McCollum

Oct. 2013 — Broken fifth Metatarsal In Left Foot

After being taken 10th overall during the 2013 NBA Draft the shooting guard out of Lehigh wasn't able to start his career the way many had hoped. After breaking the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot the rookie wasn't able to take the court until January of 2014. Before the injury McCollum was in consideration for playing time behind Lillard. 

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Alex Morgan

Oct. 2013 — Stress reaction in talus bone

During the 2013 season Morgan suffered an injury that doctors misdiagnosed as a mildly sprained ankle. After a few additional tests were performed it turned out that Morgan had suffered a far more serious injury. She actually suffered a stress reaction in the talus bone that put her immediate future with Team USA in question. After rehabbing for 7 months Morgan was able to make a full recovery.

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Bralon Addison

April 2014 — Torn left ACL

After exceeding expectations as a freshman and sophomore at the University of Oregon Addison was expecting big things from his junior year. Unfortunately, Addison suffered a torn ACL during last year's spring practice that kept him sidelined the entire year. Without Addison in the lineup the receiving core never lived up to their full potential. If he had been able to play this season the National Championship may have wielded a different outcome.

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Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

Dec. 2014 — Torn ACL

In preparation for the first ever college football playoffs Ekpre-Olomu ended up tearing his ACL during a routine practice. This was a huge blow to the Ducks considering Ekpre-Olomu was one of the team's better defenders. He was also one of the best corners in the country who many analysists expected to be selected as high as the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

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Wesley Matthews

March 2015 — Torn left achilles

Just 2 months before Matthews suffered a torn achilles he had become the Trailblazers' all-time leader in 3-point field goals made. It looked as though the Trailblazers were poised to make a deep playoff run. Things took a drastic turn when Matthews was lost for the season. With the team in a 0-2 hole against the Memphis Grizzlies it doesn't look as though they will be making it to the second round of the playoffs this year.

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