Seattle Seahawks, Frank Clark, Faith and Redemption
I love to watch the highlights of the GBvsSEA 2014 NFC Championship game. I love watching the Seahawks come from behind and win the game in such a dramatic fashion. It’s fun sometimes to watch the game, starting with five minutes remaining in the game, fast-forwarding past all the difficult plays and struggles. But my favorite experience watching that game again is to watch it from the first minute to the last catch by Kearse in the end zone in overtime when CenturyLink went absolutely nuts, knowing the Seahawks were going to the Super Bowl for the second time in two years. When I watch the whole game, invariably I am struck at the end with the awesome power of faith and redemption.
In their first pick in the second round of the 2015 draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected Frank Clark, defensive end from Michigan. Clark had been dismissed from the Michigan football team in his senior year following his arrest for domestic violence. Seattle Seahawks fans, myself included, were in shock.
In the aftermath of the attack by Ray Rice on his wife Janelle, Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll told reporters that the case made him and the entire team more aware of the issue of domestic violence. At the time, General Manager John Schneider said that the Seahawks considered it a deal breaker if a prospective player hit a woman.
The selection of Clark in the 2015 draft is difficult to reconcile against what Coach Carroll and John Schneider have said in the past. In a press interview following the second day of the 2015 draft, one of the most tense and uncomfortable in recent years, both emphasized that they had been comprehensive in their evaluation of Clark, that they were persuaded he had not hit his girlfriend, that he was committed to taking steps necessary to avoiding similar situations in the future, and that he was a good fit for the Seattle Seahawks.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be processing this one for a while, as Clark’s teammates and the fans get to know him better. But as I process, I keep thinking of the GBvsSEA NFC Championship game, and faith and redemption.
After the Rice case, I followed an online discussion of the case. There was a lot of emotion surrounding the attack and the handling of it by the police and the NFL. Someone in that discussion raised the point that by suspending Ray Rice, the NFL was also punishing Janelle Rice – again – for his actions. The person went on to ask, shouldn’t we be working to help these young men and their families? Rather than banishing them for life from their profession and denying them the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families?
I’ve let that thought process a while. Of course, the answer is yes. The even harder question, however, is how do you do that?
If I were to create an environment designed to help a young man learn how to be a better man, I’d want that young man to be surrounded by men of strong principle who were not just coaches but teachers, who would pay close attention to him, and who were committed to helping young men become their very best selves. I’d want him to know that as long as he gave it his all in good faith, those around him would help him through the challenges. I’d want him – and his family – lifted up in support and brotherhood. But I’d want him to know that if he continued to make the wrong choices, those around him would be strong enough to say, “No, enough is enough” and do whatever needed to be done to make the situation right.
If I wanted to help a troubled young man become a better man? I’d want him in camp with Coach Pete Carroll, GM John Schneider, and the players who have taken the LOB from “Legion of Boom” to “Love Our Brothers”.
I hope Frank Clark has a chance to watch the GBvsSEA NFC Championship Game. Yes, Jermaine Kearse had four interceptions during the game. But I hope Clark sees that the guy who brought down Clinton-Dix after the third interception, in the second quarter, was Kearse. Kearse had been knocked to the ground but got up, ran the width of the field after Clinton-Dix, and made the play that needed to be made. Kearse made the play when even the Beast, Marshawn Lynch, wasn’t able to get to Clinton-Dix. I hope Clark sees that the 12s were faithfully in the game through the darkest time to the improbable and glorious finish. I hope he understands how powerful it was that the defense kept the team in it, and that Pete Carroll, Darrell Bevell, and Russell Wilson had faith in the team to deliver the game winning pass to Jermaine.
There is no question Frank Clark has challenges ahead of him, on the field and especially, off. With the Seattle Seahawks’ faith, he also has a chance for redemption.