In a recent interview, former Washington Redskins wide receiver Gary Clark discussed new Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson, Robert Griffin III and Clark’s days as a member of the best wide receiving corps in the NFL.
Clark played on two Super Bowl-winning Redskins teams and led the Redskins in receiving yardage in six of his eight seasons with the team. Along with Hall of Famer Art Monk and Ricky Sanders, Clark was part of the legendary “Posse.” In 1989, they became the first trio of wide receivers in NFL history to each gain more than 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. The feat has only been accomplished three times since then.
During the 1987 season, Clark scored the go-ahead touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game against Minnesota and in the Super Bowl against Denver. Perhaps most impressively, Clark had 10 receiving touchdowns in 1991 for an astonishing average of 45.3 yards per touchdown, an achievement that will almost certainly never be matched.
Clark was also the first receiver in the history of the league to catch at least 50 passes in his first 10 seasons. Clark caught 699 passes for an average of 15.5 yards and 65 touchdowns during his 11-year NFL career, which included stops in Arizona and Miami.
Clark was a fierce competitor who fired up the Redskins with clutch plays. He was sure-handed and tough and gained much of his yardage after the catch. He would often run around the sidelines of RFK Stadium, exhorting fans to cheer by waving his arms up and down.
An emotional, outgoing player, Clark’s personality was in sharp contrast to the more subdued personalities of many of his teammates. Clark often played with sore hamstrings, yet still made tough yards over the middle and sped past defenders while catching deep passes.
Clark spends some of his time these days working in the Washington, D.C. area as the director of the Gridiron Legacy, a business development firm founded by former NFL players. He can be seen periodically on former Redskin Tony McGee’s sports talk show Pro Football Plus, which airs on The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).
Frandsen: What do you think about the Redskins’ signing of DeSean Jackson? He’s a great receiver, but his work habits have been questioned and he reportedly has been linked to gangs.
Clark: I don’t really know about Jackson’s work habits. I know about his on-field habits, which seem to be pretty good. In terms of the gang thing, I don’t know if he has gang ties or not, but there are a lot of athletes that come from blue-collar households to start with. You can live in a gang neighborhood but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are tied into that gang, but you’re associated with it because you live in that same neighborhood. And some of those people could be your friends. We all have friends that do good and bad things, but they’re still your friends from childhood. You don’t really negate that.
I think Jackson is a good addition to the Redskins’ receiving corps. Now they have two great receivers plus a tight end. This may be the best receiving corps that they’ve had, combined, quite honestly since the “Posse.” They’ve got a lot of things to look forward to. If they strengthen up their line, the offense is going to be something to be reckoned with.
Q: Can you reflect back on your days as a member of the Posse, playing with Art Monk and Ricky Sanders, getting passes from Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien, and winning two Super Bowls?
Clark: We were just very fortunate to be a part of a great team. Coach Gibbs and Bobby Beathard had the foresight to put pretty good receiving corps together even before myself and Ricky got there. You had Art and the Fun Bunch, Charlie Brown, Alvin Garrett, Virgil Seay. You had the Smurfs. So the Redskins have always had pretty good receiving corps and when you had myself, Art and Ricky there it seemed to all come together.
We had great quarterbacks. I was fortunate to play with Joe Theismann. I had Jay Schroeder, then Doug Williams for my first Super Bowl and then of course Mark Rypien for my second Super Bowl. It’s just pretty impressive. Rypien is probably one of the most intelligent quarterbacks I’ve ever played with throughout my whole career including Pro Bowls.
He’s a very smart athlete and threw the best deep ball of anybody I’ve ever known. In 1991 I probably had about 10 touchdowns and probably averaged about 45 yards a touchdown catch. That’s just unheard of. Nobody does that. That’s all because of Mark Rypien throwing great long balls to me, making my job very easy.
Q: You had a great career with five 1,000-yard seasons, two Super Bowl wins and four Pro Bowls. Your stats are almost identical to Michael Irvin’s, and he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You made huge plays in Super Bowls and playoff games. How do you feel about being passed over for the Hall of Fame?
Clark: I think any athlete that plays any sport, you hope one day you get into that Hall of Fame. But at the professional football level we really think more about what our peers think as opposed to some of the writers. Don’t get me wrong—everybody wants to get into the Hall of Fame. I think it took us so long to get Art in that it ended up hurting a lot of the other Redskins players, not just receivers but Redskins players in general to go into the Hall of Fame.
If I get in that would be great. But we were very happy that Art got in. Myself and Ricky both feel like Art being in is kind of like us being in because we looked at ourselves as one tandem. We were just happy when Art got in. Me personally, my numbers kind of speak for themselves in terms of my role here in Washington. The eight years I was here in Washington, I led in most receiving categories.
I held my own pretty well with everybody. At one time, I was considered the second-best receiver in the league behind Jerry Rice. It’s up to the media to figure that portion out. I guess they will or they won’t. I’m glad Art got in no matter what.
Q: Robert Griffin III had the great rookie year and then struggled last season coming back from the knee injury. How do you evaluate his career so far?
Clark: I think Griffin will be fine. Every player in their career has good years and then sometimes they have off-years. One thing I know about football is the quarterback gets too much credit and they always get too much blame. Football is probably the only professional sport that truly is a team sport. Everything has to work in sequence for the play to take.
I can run the perfect pass route and the quarterback can throw a bad pass, or the quarterback can throw a perfect pass and I can drop it. If the linemen don’t block for the quarterback, I can run the perfect route and he can get sacked. I didn’t think he had a great season last year, but I didn’t think he had an awful season either.
Article also posted at Examiner.com.