Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Remembering Dwight Clark (1957-2018)

LOOKING BACK
By Chris Willis, NFL Films
Dwight Clark making "The Catch" in the 1981 NFC Championship Game
(Courtesy: Sports Illustrated, current news story)
On January 10, 1982, I was 11-years old sitting at home in Columbus, Ohio watching the Dallas Cowboys play the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Growing up in the Buckeye State I became addicted to football, mainly watching the Ohio State Buckeyes. But in the NFL the Bengals and Browns took a back seat to my favorite player Joe Montana and my favorite team the 49ers. Cheering on the 49ers was doubly enjoyable that day as my older brother was rooting for the Cowboys. So when "The Catch" happened it made me a 49ers fan for life and made my brother miserable for a decade. 

So hearing the news yesterday that Dwight Clark, one of my heroes growing up, had passsed away from ALS at the young age of 61, my heart broke.

Dwight Clark (1957-2018) was drafted in the 10th round out of Clemson in 1979. New 49ers head coach Bill Walsh saw him at Clemson while he scouted Tigers quarterback Steve Fuller in a pre-draft workout. Instead of taking Fuller he took Joe Montana in the 3rd round of out Notre Dame and Montana-to-Clark became the West Coast offense key receiving threat for the 49ers.

Clark played 9 seasons with the 49ers (1979-1987) and won 2 Super Bowls (XVI, XIX). He finished with 506 catches for 6,750 yards and 48 touchdowns.

When NFL Films started to produce the series "America's Game" back in 2005 Dwight Clark was one of the first people we interviewed. His interview was featured in the 1981 49ers show. Watching that show again showed Clark as such a down-to-earth person who genuinely was just happy to be playing in the NFL and happy to be in the right place, at the right time.
America's Game: 1981 San Francisco 49ers
(Courtesy: NFL Films)
"The Catch" will live on for 49ers and NFL fans everywhere. As for me, I'm happy that he made "The Catch," giving me one of the most special moments of my life as a football fan. He's one of the main reasons I'm a die-hard Faithful fan for nearly forty years.

Thank you, Dwight Clark!! RIP.

2 comments:

  1. ....thanks for the article Chris!

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  2. It's always tough to lose the players we grew up admiring. It's as if we knew them personally and have lost a friend or relative.
    Nice job, Chris!

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