Anyone who’s followed Frank Clark’s career with the Kansas City Chiefs can agree that the 29-year-old’s tenure with the team has seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
Back in 2019, it was Clark who received a massive contract by the club after being acquired via trade, then came up huge in some of the most critical moments en route to a Super Bowl title. After that, though, his health became an issue and his play suffered as a result. Clark recorded just six sacks in 2020, plagued by inconsistencies on and off the field. Last season, he got into some off-the-field trouble and had the fewest amount of sacks (4.5) since his rookie season way back in 2015.
Despite that, Clark agreed to a restructured contract with the Chiefs that lowered his cap hit to $13.7 million for 2022 when many believed that he’d be cut from the team earlier in the summer. Negotiating that adjustment didn’t seem to be a difficult decision for Clark, as he’s a big fan of where he’s at right now.
“I love it here,” Clark said. “I love Chiefs Kingdom. We built something special whenever I came here. Four years later, I just love it here. I love my teammates. My boy Chris Jones is one of my best friends. We got unfinished work. I feel like last year we left off on a pretty sour taste. (We) had a lot of high hopes but didn’t accomplish our goals. (We) didn’t win the AFC Championship, didn’t make it back to the Super Bowl. You know how we are, we got high standards here. We want to set the bar high and keep it there. And like I said, we left on a sour note. I wanted to come back and finish on a good note.”
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It remains to be seen what exactly a “good note” would consist of this season, but Clark is undoubtedly making an effort. Following the conclusion of the season, he made lifestyle changes that have him looking — and feeling — healthier (lighter) as the 2022 campaign approaches. Clark no longer drinks liquor, and he believes that could have been what caused his stomach issues that, in turn, hindered his play in recent years. He also changed his food diet, which has gone hand-in-hand with the elimination of alcohol to assist him in being able to work hard during the offseason.
“Really, one of the main things is I cut a lot of red meat out,” Clark said. “I stopped drinking liquor. Alcohol is a big factor in a lot of things as far as weight, that cut, it all is sugar. So at the end of the day, I stopped drinking liquor right after the season, honestly. It was February (when) I was sick, having stomach problems and gastrointestinal problems. I haven’t had any since I stopped drinking liquor and it kind of started making more sense. As I’m going on, I’m training, I feel my body is responding to me. I’m able to get up. I’m able to work out all times of day, all times of night. It was a commitment I made.”
That commitment could have Clark poised for a resurgence of sorts this year. He’s the most tenured member of the Chiefs’ defensive end group, leading the likes of rookie George Karlaftis and second-year players Joshua Kaindoh and Malik Herring. Finding snaps won’t be a problem, and the addition of veteran Carlos Dunlap figures to take some pressure off Clark to be the only “proven” defensive end in the room. When asked about his expectations for himself this season, Clark said he’s focused on both himself and newcomers like Karlaftis. He wants everyone to thrive once the regular season rolls around.
“To be the best that I can be,” Clark said. “The best teammate I can be, help these young guys. We got some young guys in. I got George (Karlaftis) who’s a first-round guy who’s got to be ready to play. So at the end of the day, part of the things I’m doing at practice is helping him understand the system faster. As a rookie, I know how tough it can be coming in when you got all these different things going on. You got people, – your family, friends – they (are) all on your back and stuff like that. And for a guy like George, a Big 10 guy, I’m a Michigan guy, so we got that Big 10 bond. I just want to see him be successful. When he lines up on the other side of me, inside, wherever he lines up, I just want to see him be successful at the end of the day.”