As Seahawks fans, we write with great disappointment. As fans who are also professionals in the domestic violence field, it’s sad to see our home team let us down.
The Seahawks have been on record with a zero tolerance policy regarding domestic violence. Yet, with the selection of Frank Clark in the 2015 draft, it is clear that the actions of the Seahawks front office are at great odds with their words.
“Suffice to say, we would never, ever take a player that struck a female or had a dispute like that, or did anything like that,” said general manager John Schneider.
“… Domestic and sexual violence is a pervasive problem affecting your athletes, as well as people in all of society . . . Every coach is in a position that allows him to directly influence the attitudes of his athletes and to help eliminate disrespectful perceptions of women and girls,” said head coach Pete Carroll.
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Powerful words; yet Schneider and Carroll did not heed their own advice when they drafted Clark.
It is very common for abusers to deny their behavior and plea bargain to lesser charges. The problem here is that the Seahawks don’t seem to have vetted the full story before drafting Clark.
The Seahawks chose Clark’s charisma over actual due diligence because they apparently wanted the player that badly. It is so disappointing that they didn’t follow their own advice and that their actions don’t match their words.
Did they consider witness accounts of Clark’s girlfriend screaming, her young siblings crying out that Clark was killing their sister? Did they consider the hotel staff that saw her unconscious body lying on the floor? Did they consider the victim’s own statements to police that Clark struck her in the face, and the photos of the injury?
If they did, they chose to take Clark’s word that “he did not hit that woman” over the accounts of multiple people, including the victim?
Rather than following through on what they said they believe, Schneider and Carroll just went along with Clark, prioritizing athletic skill over moral character.
It is sad to say that our own Seattle Seahawks missed the chance to do the right thing, but actions really do speak louder than words. And here is the message they are sending: The game is more important than the people in it, and if you’re a victim your word means less, or nothing at all, because as long as the person who assaulted you denies it and is a good athlete, that’s good enough.
Well, for us Seahawk fans, it isn’t. We expect more from you. We expect solutions. We expect that you can admit to making a mistake; that you can be honest and transparent.
We expect you to have a plan to ensure that Clark and all Seahawk employees are accountable for their behavior, and that incidents of domestic violence will not continue to be swept under the rug.
We expect you to walk your talk. Your fans expect that from you, and your community deserves it.
Miriam Barnett is CEO of the YWCA Pierce County. Susan Adams is executive director of the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center.