Dwight Clark

(Photo by Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS/Sipa USA)

Dwight Clark, former 49ers receiver, Browns executive dead at 61

Author of 'The Catch' served as VP of football operations for expansion Browns

June 5, 2018

Daryl Ruiter-Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The football world lost a legend Monday with the passing of Dwight Clark.

Clark lost his battle with ALS his wife, Kelly, announced on Clark’s verified Twitter account Monday evening.

Clark, a 5-time Super Bowl champion as a player and executive with the San Francisco 49ers, will forever be remembered for ‘The Catch’ which took place in the closing moments of the 1982 NFC Championship Game. With the 49ers trailing Dallas, Clark made a leaping 6-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Joe Montana in the back of the endzone, which to this day is one of the most iconic plays in NFL history.

Clark totaled 6,750 yards and 48 touchdowns over 134 games played in his 9-year NFL career, but in March of 2017 he announced that he was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

"I’ve been asked if playing football caused this. I don’t know for sure. But I certainly suspect it did," Clark wrote at the time he announced the diagnosis. "And I encourage the NFLPA and the NFL to continue working together in their efforts to make the game of football safer, especially as it relates to head trauma."

The 2-time Super Bowl champion was named to the Pro Bowl twice and was named to the All Pro team in 1982 after leading the league in receptions. 

Clark joined the 1999 expansion Cleveland Browns where he served as the executive vice president of football operations until May 2002.

Unfortunately for Clark, he was given little time to help get the expansion Browns off the ground because the NFL didn't award ownership of the franchise to late owner Al Lerner until September 1998 and the team was unable to hire a chief football personnel executive, so Clark assumed the role as defacto general manager for the first 2 seasons.

Clark helped assemble and oversee the personnel department leading up to the 1999 expansion draft as well as the selection of Tim Couch with the team's No. 1 pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. 

After winning just 5 games in their first 2 seasons back in the NFL, the Browns showed promise in 2001 finishing the year 7-9, but new head coach Butch Davis was given control over the personnel department as part of his agreement for taking the job. Clark eventually resigned in May of 2002 after transitioning the personnel departmernt to Davis' control.

Clark was 61.