RENTON After Frank Clark punched Germain Ifedi in practice two weeks ago, Seahawks general manager John Schneider came up to Clark.
“Do we have to have another one of ‘those’ conversations?” the GM told him.
Did Clark fear Schneider was fed up?
Was Clark worried this-- punching teammate Ifedi so hard during a practice the 350-pound lineman went face-down to the ground then missed the next three days --may be his last chance with the Seahawks?
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Did he fear the team that made him its top draft choice in 2015 months after he was out of the University of Michigan’s program following an arrest and brief jailing in a domestic-violence case -- the team that said publicly it was “disappointed” in him this spring when he lashed out online at a woman reporter for writing her objection to Seattle drafting him -- find its last nerve with the defensive end?
No, Clark did not.
Still does not.
“I don’t really have a fear,” he said Wednesday following practice for the Seahawks home exhibition game Friday against Minnesota.
“I’ve learned everything is in God’s plan, so everything is going to work out how He chooses to work out in my destiny and in my favor. All I can control is getting up every day, you know coming in and doing whatever my coaches ask of me and whatever my teammates ask of me.”
They didn’t ask Clark to punch Ifedi during a heated pass-rush drill Aug. 3, landing a clean blow onto the face of the starting right tackle who was not wearing his helmet.
That’s why Clark wasn’t allowed to practice for days. Why he almost assuredly was fined by the team. Why he apologized to Ifedi personally, to the entire team -- and on Wednesday, publicly.
“It was more of a heat-of-the-moment thing. I let my emotions overcome the situation,” Clark said. “For a brief moment, I thought that myself, really, that I was bigger than the team, in all regards. I thought about myself first before I thought my defense as a whole, and my defensive line to be more specific, because it was a one-on-one drill.
“That’s basically it, It was an overheated thing. We always get heated up; its O-line and D-line, it’s supposed to happen. It just got taken too far, that’s all.”
Was Clark concerned the Seahawks had had it with him and would perhaps punish him severely, such as suspend him from a regular-season game or three (which would take away some of his game checks) or perhaps even cut it’s 10-sack man from last season?
“I wasn’t really concerned with that. It was bigger than football,” he said. “I was more concerned about my mental well-being, me letting them know that I wanted to be a part of this team and me letting them know that I came in here with the intent on being the best player that I can be, working through the summer and spring.”
Wednesday, offensive line coach Tom Cable said again how disappointed he was that Ifedi missed essentially a week of work in full scrimmaging in his push to be the starting right tackle in this his second Seahawks season.
Clark said he’s talked to Ifedi, many times, since the punch.
“We’ve had multiple conversations, with myself and the team. I believe some of our guys have said it -- this is my first time talking, but, yeah, I had apologized to my team right after the altercation,” Clark said. “And I also apologized to Germain Ifedi more personally, on a personal level. That was my goal in the whole thing to just getting it past us and working towards the season.
“The biggest message was just letting them know how remorseful I was. I just wanted to let them know that I was actually sorry, and I really wanted to let Germain know that I was sorry, besides the team. That was my biggest thing, I just wanted to let him know that it was my fault and that I would never let it get to that point again.
“I’m sure that it’ll be heated again. It’s football. It’s offensive line and defensive line. But you have to be aware of those situations and know how to take your actions out another kind of way.”
Clark said coach Pete Carroll told him he was barring him from practice. Then the next day after the fight, Clark woke up and couldn’t move his left knee.
Carroll had said Clark’s knee had been a nagging pain that had been going on for a while.
“The first thing Pete told me was like, “You’re going to be out of practice. I’m going to take you out of practice. You’re going to sit out the next day,’” Clark said. “That was a for-sure. I kind of took that day as a day to get my mind back right to re-focus.
“The knee thing was totally unplanned. I finished practice (actually, Carroll kicked him out immediately after the punch, with Ifedi following behind Clark into team headquarters a minute or two later with a towel over his bloodied face). I finished fine. And next thing I know, I woke up the next morning and my knee was swollen. I could barely walk. And about the time I got in, they were telling me that I had a little bit over a grade one MCL sprain.”
Clark said he knows the play in practice he hurt his knee.
“Yeah, yeah. I know exactly when I got hurt,” he said. “I’m saying, in the heat of the moment when you have an adrenaline rush and there are things going on, you don’t realize certain things may be hurt on your body.”
He wore a brace as he missed more practices. But upon his return to practice last week, Clark shed the brace. He played 10 snaps with the starting defense last weekend in the preseason opener at the Los Angeles Chargers and estimates he’s at about 85-90 percent of full health now.
“I have had broken fingers and strange things and not realized they were broken until after the game,” Clark said, “just based off the adrenaline.”