San Francisco 49ers legend Dwight Clark passed away Monday at the age of 61 and we’re getting all sorts of stories on how good a guy he really was. Today I found one that pretty much is a good drop the mic moment in Clark’s career. We’ve heard the stories of how Clark had his teammates’ backs. But this one is how he had the competition. Remember Everson Walls? He’s the guy who was covering Clark during The Catch.
Eric Branch had a great story from 2017 about the financial fallout from The Catch. When the play became a media sensation, there was money to be made. Mostly from Kodak. Clark got compensated by the then-film juggernaut (yeah, remember when we used film?) and made sure they also got Montana in on the cheddar.
That left Everson Walls, the Dallas Cowboy player who whiffed on Clark in the epic play. You see him with his arms out as Clark catches the ball. He’s in just about every picture where Clark is catching the ball, yet wasn’t supposed to get a cent.
As Branch’s story goes, Clark made sure to make a point that Montana got royalties for the photo using his likeness, then went to Walls. Most noteworthy is the fact that they really didn’t know each other well off the field. From Branch’s article:
He [Clark] informed Walls that he’d been compensated by Kodak, which was using “The Catch” as part of an advertising campaign. Clark had creatively managed to make sure his buddy, Joe Montana, received a check by telling the company “He threw the pass!”
And he approached Walls with similar enthusiasm. His message: Let’s get you paid.
“I really didn’t know him, but Dwight didn’t even say hi,” Walls said. “He came right up to me with a sense of urgency. And for him to give a crap about if I got my money? I know a lot of guys. Black, white, whatever. They wouldn’t do that. That goes to show how in tune he was as a peer. And that gave me pause: ‘Hey, this dude here is pretty cool.’”
What followed was a great friendship. Walls even attended ‘Dwight Clark Day’ in the 2017 season to celebrate his former opponent.
And Walls is no slouch either, he was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.
From the outside looking in, there probably was no incentive or reason for Clark to include Walls in the royalties, but he went straight to him and made sure he got included on the payout for the epic play. I’ll close this just as I did for Clark’s obituary:
Dwight Clark did that.