Chiefs Frank Clark arrives at camp with a fresh outlook on life

scheduled tribe. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Frank Clark arrived at training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs last month with a notably trimmer, and with that dreaded scowl that somehow seemed fitting for a dangerous defensive end replaced by a joyous smile.

his attitude? He was better too.

The changes in appearance and behavior were a byproduct of a decision made by the 29-year-old Clarke shortly after last season to clear his life. He swears by alcohol, which has gotten him in trouble in the past with red meat and sugar, which packed about 15 pounds onto his 250-pound frame and radically changed his performance.

Clarke hasn’t felt so good about her sense of purpose and direction since her early days in Michigan.

“At some point you have to grow up,” he explained. “I have three kids, and other kids are watching me every day. I have a 6-year-old daughter looking up to daddy to make the right decisions. I’m drunk. I can’t afford to live in, missing times, dates, missing important things. I have so many important things coming in this life.”

The most immediate is his eighth NFL season, when Clarke will be trying to bounce back from a disappointing year in which he managed just 4 1/2 sacks for one of the worst defenses in the league to pressure the quarterback.

Clarke was still voted to the third consecutive Pro Bowl, but it was an honor that somehow hollowed out. The Chiefs blew a huge halftime lead for Cincinnati in the AFC championship game, and their inability to upset quarterback Joe Burrows was a big reason on that cold January night, leading Clark to a meaningless All-Star Game instead of the Super Bowl. The game was abandoned.

Yet it was a fitting conclusion to a difficult year on and off the field for Clarke.

It began when Clark, who was traded to Kansas City by Seattle in 2019, was arrested twice during the 2021 off-season on gun-related charges; He pleaded not guilty and the cases have yet to be resolved, although Clarke said this week he expects some sort of resolution soon. And the problems continued into the regular season, when Clarke missed three of the first four games due to hamstring injuries and didn’t pick up his first sack until Week 8 against the New York Giants.

“It was hard as hell when you were going through all the things I was going through,” Clark admitted, “but I kept it to myself.” You have to deal with it when you keep it up to you. I am a stand-up guy. You know everything that I have gone through. I face it as a man. You have to That’s the only way you can grow through anything.”

Evidence of that self-development was crucial to the Chiefs, who were unsure whether Clark would ever have the frightening and productive pass rush he had been in Seattle, where he had 13 sacks and 10 tackles-for-losses during the 2018 season.

In fact, head coach Andy Reid met with Clark after the season and gave him a dose of reality.

“He was like, ‘I know what type of player you are. You know what type of player you are. You didn’t show that this season,'” Clarke recalled. “Me and Coach Reed are real . He’s from East Los Angeles, I’m from South Central; It’s the same thing, know what I’m saying? We’re going to keep it real with each other. ,

However, Clarke still had to deal with returning to the Chiefs.

He signed a five-year, $105 million contract after moving to Kansas City, taking a massive salary cap hit for the upcoming season, but the Chiefs also avoided most of it due to out-clauses after the 2021 season. could. Most took one look at the cash-strapped heads and assumed they would take the easy route and just let them go.

However, instead of solving their near-pass problem, that move may have exacerbated it. So the Chiefs and Clark managed to restructure their contract, reducing their salary cap number and keeping it in the fold.

Chief General Manager Brett Veitch said, “You know, I think Frank would even say that in the past he’s been his worst enemy.” “But be it when I first met him in ’19 or, you know, here to put his body through a detox and get back in really good shape, he’s always been extremely charismatic and Stick to that team mentality. He has been the guy who does whatever the coach says and is always ready to help and mentor the kids.”

This advice has become clear during the first two weeks of training camp.

To increase his pass crowd, the Chiefs spent a first-round draft pick on Purdue defensive end George Karloftis. And within days, Karloftis joined Clark for extra work after nearly every practice.

“He’s off, man. It’s the most lock-in I’ve ever seen,” said fellow defensive end Mike Dana, who has grown close to Clarke, noting their shared alma mater. “He’s integrating everyone, communicating – working the whole line together. That’s the biggest thing to find success. He’s been a leader. We all look up to him.”

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