Ex-49er Dwight Clark Diagnosed With ALS
Dwight Clark, the former San Francisco 49ers star wide receiver best known for ” the catch” that won the NFC Championship Game in 1982 has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He announced that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis on Sunday in a statement posted on the website of former 49ers owner Ed DeBartolo Jr.
“In September of 2015, I started feeling weakness in my left hand,” Clark 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.
“After months of tests and treatment, I got some bad news,” he continued. “I was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I have ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Those words are still very hard for me to say.”
Clark said he thinks football may have caused the disease, ALS has been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the degenerative brain disease that studies have linked to athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including concussions.
“I’ve been asked if playing football caused this,” Clark wrote. “I don’t know for sure. But I certainly suspect it did. 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.”
Several of Clark’s former 49ers colleagues and teammates issued statements about Clark’s diagnosis.
“Jennifer and I are saddened by the diagnosis of Dwight,” Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, who played with Clark from 1979-87, said in a statement. “This is a difficult time for Dwight, Kelly and all of us who love him. He is family, and in our continual thoughts and prayers. We hope the public will be cognizant of Dwight’s desire for privacy.”
DeBartolo also issued a statement on Sunday.
“Dwight has been an integral part of my family’s life for decades. We are absolutely devastated. We vow to do everything in our power to support Dwight and Kelly and help them fight this terrible disease.”
Teammate and Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice also offered his sympathy.
“DC has done so much for me as a player and friend,” Rice wrote in a statement. “My rookie year he showed me how to run that out route! We know him for the catch but he’s a great individual who cares about people. Please pray for him Faithful through this adversity!!! I love the guy!!!!”
Clark won two Super Bowls with the 49ers in nine seasons and is one of 12 49ers to have his jersey retired by the team. and Clark has the third-most receiving yards (6,750) in 49ers history behind Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens.