Dwight Clark, the legendary wide receiver and former general manager for the the San Francisco 49ers, died on Monday. He was 61.
What was Clark’s cause of death? How did he die? Here is what we know so far:
Clark’s death was confirmed on Twitter by his wife Kelly Radzikowski. “I’m heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband,” she wrote. “He passed peacefully surrounded by many of the people he loved most. I am thankful for all of Dwight’s friends, teammates and 49ers fans who have sent their love during his battle.”
In the same tweet, Radzikowski revealed Clark died after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gherig’s disease.
Clark announced that he had been diagnosed with ALS this past March. He released an official statement on his website that detailed the hardships he went through after being diagnosed. “In September of 2015, I started feeling weakness in my left hand,” he wrote, “I was mildly paying attention to it because since my playing days, I’ve constantly had pain in my neck. I was thinking it was related to some kind of nerve damage because it would just come and go.”
Clark felt that his time in the NFL was a likely contributor to his diagnosis. “I’ve been asked if playing football caused this. I don’t know for sure. But I certainly suspect it did,” he wrote. “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.”
In the last few months of Clark’s life, he said that his ALS made it difficult to perform routine activities around the house. “In addition to losing strength in my left hand – which makes opening a pack of sugar or buttoning my shirt impossible”, he said, “I have now experienced weakness in my right hand, abs, lower back and right leg.” Clark added that he was unable to run, play golf, or pick up anything over 30 pounds. “The one piece of good news”, he reasoned, “is that the disease seems to be progressing more slowly than in some patients.
Clark, who played eight seasons for the 49ers between 1979 and 1987, is best remembered for “The Catch”, a famous play he made during the 1981 NFC Playoffs. He leaped and caught a 6-yard pass from quarterback Joe Montana that allowed the 49ers to defeat the Dallas Cowboys and advance to Super Bowl XVI– which they eventually won. Watch the video clip below.
Clark ended his career with two Super Bowl rings, and to honor his contribution to 49ers, the team retired his number 87. He later served as a team executive for the 49ers and was the General Manager and Director of Football Operations for the Cleveland Browns from 1999–2002. He resigned following the 2002 season.
Clark is survived by his wife Kelly Radzikowski, whom he lived with in California, and his three children: Casey, Riley and Mac.
Source: Heavy Sports