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Dwight Clark - January HOF Member of the Month

By Helen Ross - NCSHOF Board of Directors, 01/23/18, 12:30PM EST


They call it, simply, “The Catch.”

The upstart San Francisco 49ers were on the Dallas Cowboys’ 6-yard line, trailing by six. It was third down and 3 with a mere 58 seconds remaining in the 1981 NFC Championship game.

Under heavy pressure, San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana rolled right and lofted a pass high toward the back of the end zone. That’s where Dwight Clark, the 49ers’ talented 6-foot-4 wide receiver, leapt into the air and grabbed the ball with his fingertips.

The touchdown gave the 49ers a 28-27 lead. The ensuing win ended the Cowboys’ domination of the NFC and propelled San Francisco into the Super Bowl where it beat Cincinnati 26-21.

Clark is now facing a much more daunting opponent than he did that January day in Candlestick Park, though.

The Kinston, N.C. native, announced in March of 2017 that he has ALS, an insidious and progressive neurodegenerative disease for which there is no known cure.

In an open letter to the public, Clark wrote: “While I’m still trying to wrap my head about the challenge I will face with this disease over the coming years, the only thing I know is that I’m going to fight like hell and live every day to the fullest.”

The 49ers saluted Clark, whose jersey was retired in 1988, with a day in his honor in October when San Francisco hosted Dallas.

In recognition of that catch on Jan. 10, 2982 and his brave struggle against ALS, Clark is the NCSHOF’s January Member of the Month. Clark, who was inducted in 1997, is one of 61 football players in the Hall.

Click here to read more about Clark, who played collegiately at Clemson.