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Seahawks 'Overreached' With Controversial Draft Pick

Julio Cortez
AP Photo
Frank Clark runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015.

The Seahawks are getting their first look at their newly-drafted players this weekend in a three-day camp. This, as one of those rookies continues to draw big scrutiny.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the Seahawks' choice of Frank Clark sparked controversy and comparisons to troubled players they've selected in the past.

Questions Remain

Last November, police were summoned to a disturbance at the Maui Sands, a Sandusky, Ohio, hotel and waterpark resort. They arrested Frank Clark on domestic-violence charges after his then-girlfriend, Diamond Hurt, was found injured by other hotel patrons.

Last month, the prosecutor in the case reduced the charge to disorderly conduct.

The Seahawks said they did a lot of research on Frank Clark before they decided to draft him. And they claim their own investigation led them to believe Clark did not strike his girlfriend. But they didn't interview the witnesses who found Hurt.

"It’s very difficult to sort out what the Seahawks claim was a ton of research," Thiel said. "Yet we also have the police report that shows injuries to the victim that are consistent with an episode of domestic violence.

“It does look bad for both the young man and, certainly, it looked bad for the woman who said in the police report that she was punched. But now she does not say that."

'I Don't Think He Punched Her'

Thiel said that's backed up by the prosecutor in the case, Lynne Gast-King.

"She answered a question from The Seattle Times this week by saying: 'Was there physical things going on between them? Yeah, there was. But I don’t think he punched her.'

"That is what Frank Clark is claiming and that is what the Seahawks believe,” Thiel said.

Gast-King went on to say: "As a prosecutor, I want to be perceptive to the fact that domestic violence is a very serious issue that needs to be dealt with. But I also am perceptive to the fact that two people can have an altercation that is not domestic violence. Every case you have to look at the whole case."

"I can say that the Seahawks walked into a real storm of controversy with this pick and it's hard to say right now whether the controversy is justified or this guy is deserving of a second chance," Thiel said.

Seahawks: Domestic Violence A 'Deal-Breaker'

The Seahawks are on record as saying they wouldn't take anyone with an episode of domestic violence. Before the draft in 2012, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said it was a deal-breaker.

"But now we're into this subject of parsing what constitutes domestic violence," Thiel said. "That's what's so difficult about this."

Last fall, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made a statement following the revelation that former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice had struck his then-fiancee inside an elevator.

"Pete Carroll said that he had a new enlightened awareness of what was going on," Thiel said. "So for them to draft Frank Clark with this history was very surprising and it sounds contradictory."

Another Troubled Case: Percy Harvin

Thiel said the Seahawks' release of talented receiver Percy Harvin mid-season last year illuminates the difficulty in trying to judge troubled players.

"They thought they could manage him," he said. "They expended great treasure to the Minnesota Vikings, who had trouble with Percy. His University of Florida coach had trouble with Percy on anger issues and temper management.

"The Seahawks said 'we can deal with that.' Pete Carroll has a great history of finding young men with troubled pasts and helps them get on course. But he's not perfect.

"The question is does your reach exceed your grasp? In the Harvin case it did not work out."

A Pattern With The Seahawks

Thiel pointed out that former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren had some draftees who gave him a lot of problems. "Tight end Jerramy Stevens and wide receiver Koren Robinson really couldn't get it together and could not be productive," he said.

"I'm not saying that's the case with Frank Clark but it is a cautionary tale. I think the Seahawks overreached on this one but I also think that they've come to great success because they manage people very well.

"It's a matter of do you trust them in light of the Harvin episode. We're just going to have to see."

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwestand

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.