If you missed it Thursday, SI.com’s Chris Ballard ran a lengthy feature on Dwight Clark gathering his friends, teammates, and family at Eddie DeBartolo’s ranch in Montana. 49ers reporter Matt Maiocco had a story of his own. The overriding theme of both was the get-together of everyone for one last time to see and communicate with Clark before his battle with ALS grows more severe.
And both are worth reads.
If it sounds absolutely depressing, it is, but it’s also two of the best reads you’ll find this year. There’s talk of The Catch, Clark’s beginnings in the league and his eventual retirement. In fact one of the better parts is the story of how Clark met Montana (from Chris Ballard’s version of it). The story goes, Clark was more afraid of getting cut by 49ers head coach Bill Walsh, even after drafting. And well:
That first training camp, he’d sneak in the back way to the cafeteria, on the logic that no one could cut him if they couldn’t find him. He did make one friend, though. On one of his first days, Clark ran into a scruffy, scrawny blonde dude with a patchy Fu Manchu. Clark assumed he was the team’s kicker. Turned out his name was Joe Montana. The two became fast friends.
There’s more stories like this which certainly lighten the mood for what is a pretty depressing gathering. Most important though is the gathering at DeBartolo’s home which has pictures and 49ers greats enjoying what the Ballard calls “One Last Huddle”
If you haven’t read either yet, I highly recommend reading them both.