Why Chiefs’ Frank Clark gave up alcohol for the 2022 season: ‘You have to grow up’


Kansas City Chiefs defense Frank Clark says he had a heart-to-heart talk with coach Andy Reid after last season.

The message: 2021 was not good enough.

“He says, ‘I know what type of player you are. You know what type of player you are. You haven’t shown that this season. Frankly,'” Clark said. “I understand that. Me and Coach, we are very real.”

It was talk that has been part of a knock-on effect in recent months, with Clark revealing at Chiefs training camp on Saturday that he stopped drinking alcohol in February.

That change, along with other dietary changes — like eating less red meat — made him noticeably thinner during training camp. Clark hopes the work will lead to more explosiveness after last year’s 4.5 bag campaign.

“Obviously. You can watch the movie and see, I was much heavier. I had a gut. It was like I looked sloppy, you know what I mean?” said Clark. “The type of guy I am, I’m a professional. I understand how this goes. So at the end of the day, you have to come in a representative way in everything you do. And me as a professional, I had I felt like I had to change my body, I had to change my mentality, and that’s exactly what I did.”

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Clark said he wasn’t a heavy drinker for this year, but let himself go too often out of season. That could be a drink in a restaurant or ordering shots with friends. When he stopped drinking hard liquor in the past few months, he found that many of the gastrointestinal problems he had had had disappeared.

“While I’m working out, I feel my body responding to me,” Clark said. “I can get up, I can exercise, any time of the day, any time of night. It was a commitment I made.”

Clark said he came into camp last year with 262 pounds — his heaviest since his third year in the NFL. His goal this year was to get back into the 250-255 range in an effort to be faster off the ball.

Switching to alcohol, Clark said, was also part of a bigger shift in his life.

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“At some point you have to grow up,” Clark said. ‘I have three children. I have children who look at me every day. I have a 6 year old daughter who looks to daddy, to me to make the right decisions.

“I can’t afford not to be drunk anywhere, to miss times, to miss dates, to miss something important. And too many important events in my life are coming up.”

Reid seemed to kick off the transformation with some brutal honesty. Clark said that in this case, the player and coach share a deeper bond because they both grew up in Los Angeles. That’s why the two have always been comfortable to be honest.

“I haven’t done my job as I should have done – in my opinion – to my ability,” Clark said of 2021. “According to some people, that’s an average year. I watch the average players get five sacks or whatever in a year. But for my standard that’s not good enough, and of course for my coach, and I appreciate him for that, because he holds me to that standard.”

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Clark, whose off-season deal was restructured to stay with the Chiefs, said he loved KC and had no interest in going anywhere else in 2022. Part of that was the way last season ended after the Chiefs lost home to the Cincinnati Bengal in the AFC Championship.

“We have unfinished work,” Clark said. “I feel like we stopped last year with a pretty sour taste, had a lot of high expectations, but didn’t reach our goals.”

Clark said in his eighth year he is motivated enough to get past that disappointment – proof that comes from the months of effort he put in to improve his body for this season.

“I am in a beautiful place. Yes, I’m in a great place,” Clark said Saturday. “Like I said, you go through things – you’re supposed to go through things. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. The thing about me, I’m a soldier. I never doubted. I am a standing man. I’m not afraid to face the facts.

“But eventually you go through it, you grow through it. That’s a fact.”