In 2014, Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark was arrested and prosecuted for domestic violence. On Tuesday, Clark went after Bleacher Report’s Natalie Weiner on Twitter for sharing a story she wrote for SB Nation’s Field Gulls blog about the arrest right after Seattle drafted him.
His initial tweet to Weiner has since been deleted.
writing about domestic violence is fun and risk free pic.twitter.com/XGqCQ6RvNQ— Natalie Weiner (@natalieweiner) May 10, 2017
Clark then tweeted something resembling an apology.
Apologize to anyone who felt offended by my tweet earlier. We gotta do better supporting these major issues we face in this world.— Frank Clark (@TheRealFrankC_) May 10, 2017
If you scroll through the tweets Clark has liked on Twitter, you get the sense that his apology wasn’t genuine.
After Frank Clark's obviously insincere apology he liked a lot of tweets telling him he had nothing to apologize for. pic.twitter.com/2QdPk56CM5— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) May 10, 2017
Clark issued another apology on Wednesday afternoon, this time directed toward Weiner, via Twitter. The location tag connected to the tweet placed Clark at the Seahawks’ headquarters, which makes it seem more like a public relations move.
Clark was arrested at a resort in northern Ohio in 2014 and charged with assault and disorderly conduct. His girlfriend had visible injuries to her face and neck, which were documented by law enforcement in the police report and with photographs. Police were called to the hotel after Clark’s girlfriend’s teenage brothers asked other hotel guests to help because they were afraid Clark was going to kill their sister.
The police report, obtained by the Detroit Free Press, says that Clark told officers that his girlfriend was drunk. When police administered a breathalyzer test, it registered a .000 reading. Clark told police that his girlfriend had sustained the injuries to her face and neck by falling.
Clark’s girlfriend did not want to press charges because of “what Frank has going on.” In the state of Ohio, in any case where there are visible injuries and witness accounts suggest that domestic violence occurred, officers are required by law to charge the alleged offender regardless of the other party’s wishes. Clark spent two days in jail, and Brady Hoke, who was then Clark’s college coach at Michigan, kicked him off the team.
Clark reached a plea agreement and was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The assault charge was dismissed without prejudice as part of the plea deal. The Seahawks drafted Clark in the second round of the 2015 draft, and Pete Carroll talked around the issue in his post-draft press conference.
“I would say there are always two sides to a story,” Carroll said, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times.
Writing about sports on the internet can be an interesting experience for women. There are times we’re called upon to report about ugly situations of violence against women, because it’s unavoidable. In her original blog about Clark, Weiner accurately describes the conflict women experience between loving sports and coming to terms with a culture that prioritizes athletic ability over all else, including a history of physical, emotional or sexual violence against women.
It wasn’t just Clark who criticized Weiner for sharing this story. Her mentions on Twitter are full of people condemning Weiner, with many shaping their comments around the fact that Weiner is a woman.
Weiner shared the story about Clark in connection with a piece she wrote for Bleacher Report about Greg Hardy. In writing about Clark and Hardy, Weiner is just doing her job, and part of that job is responsibly reporting on domestic violence. She shouldn’t be subjected to harassment from Frank Clark or anyone else for it, but she — and other women in sports media — will continue to be.