Dwight Clark on Battle with ALS: 'I Can't Imagine Being Totally Paralyzed'

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2018

Former wide receiver Dwight Clark is shown before an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bears in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

Less than a year after publicly announcing he had been diagnosed with ALS, former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark is speaking publicly about living with the disease.

In an interview with Daniel Brown of the Bay Area News Group, Clark spoke about the frightening reality he lives with each day. 

“It’s depressing,” he said. “The future is so scary. I can’t imagine being totally paralyzed. I keep trying to reenact it – just lay there, and think, ‘I can’t get up.’ But I can’t do it for very long. It freaks me out.”

Clark announced last March on the website of former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. he was diagnosed with ALS after feeling weakness in his hand in 2015:

"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. 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 did note the disease "seems to be progressing more slowly than in some patients." He also said he didn't know for sure if playing football caused him to be affected with ALS, but "I certainly suspect it did."

A 10th-round draft pick in 1979, Clark spent his entire nine-year NFL career with the 49ers.

His game-winning touchdown reception in the final minute of the 1982 NFC Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys, famously known as "The Catch," led to the 49ers winning their first Super Bowl title.