San Francisco 49ers legend Dwight Clark, who gave the franchise its most iconic moment with “The Catch” during the 1981 NFC Championship Game, announced Sunday that he has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS.
Clark made the announcement via Twitter on Sunday night.
“I have ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease,” Clark wrote, as transcribed by Daniel Mano of The San Jose Mercury News. “Those words are still very hard for me to say.”
Clark wrote that he was diagnosed with the disease in 2015 after visits to six different neurologists and three ALS specialists.
“The one piece of good news is that the disease seems to be progressing more slowly than in some patients,” Clark wrote. “While I’m still trying to wrap my head around 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.”
Clark played nine seasons in the NFL and won two Super Bowls with the 49ers. He ranks third in franchise history in receiving yards with 6,750, trailing only Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens.
“I’ve been asked if playing football caused this. I don’t know for sure. But I certainly suspect it did,” Clark 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.
“What I do know is I have a huge battle in front of me and I’m grateful for the strength and unconditional love from my wife, Kelly. She has been my rock. She keeps thinking positive and convinces me each day that we can beat this, as does my daughter Casey and my son Mac. My brother Jeff, his wife Debra and their family also have been unwavering with their love and support.”
The 49ers legend described his condition as weakened.
“I can’t run, play golf or walk any distances. Picking up anything over 30 pounds is a chore,” Clark wrote. “In addition to losing strength in my left hand – which makes opening a pack of sugar or buttoning my shirt impossible – I have now experienced weakness in my right hand, abs, lower back and right leg.”
Clark made the announcement on former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr.’s website, which currently is unreachable because of high traffic demands.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images