Dwight Clark, the former Clemson Tigers and San Francisco 49ers star best known for his leaping touchdown catch that won the NFC Championship Game in 1982, died yesterday.
He was just 61.
The news was made public by his wife in this heartfelt tweet:
“I’m heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband. 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 with ALS. Kelly Clark.”
Clark announced in March 2017 that he had been diagnosed with ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Clark, a wide receiver, played for the Niners from 1979 to 1987 and has one of quarterback Joe Montana's favorite targets as evidenced by the fact it was Clark he looked for on that fateful pass in the January 1982 NFC Championship game that seemed to be more of a desperation throw before Clark scaled an imaginary ladder to make the incredible catch.
Think about the fact that in the history of the NFL and the probably hundreds of thousands of receptions in league history—that is the one simply referred to as “the Catch.”
And it literally was as it proved to be a turning point in NFL dominance as the Niners literally dethroned the Cowboys in that game and as the best team in the NFL.
"The Catch" launched a decade and a half of greatness by the 49ers, who went on to win five Super Bowls over the next 14 years.
While at Clemson, Clark was a member of the 1978 team that went 11-1, beat Ohio State in a memorable Gator Bowl, and finished 6th in the final AP Poll