The Colts have purged their roster of some of the all time greats, with more farewells in the works. This is the first of a recurring series saying farewell to Colts greats. Portions of this essay originally appeared in Blue Blue: Tales of Glory of the Indianapolis Colts.
Drafted out of Iowa in the first round in 2003, Dallas Clark was going to be hard pressed to be as beloved by fans as Ken Dilger was during his time with the Colts. It did not take him long to become even more beloved. From the start, Clark showed unique abilities that made him one of the most dangerous pass catchers in football. Clark’s ‘hybrid’ skills create matchup nightmares for defenses. Too big to be covered by corners and too fast for linebackers, Dallas Clark has allowed Peyton Manning to switch freely from a two tight end alignment to a three wideout alignment all while keeping the same players on the field.
Many forget that it was the injury to Dallas Clark late in his rookie year that possibly cost the Colts a trip to the Super Bowl. When they faced the Patriots in a matchup that ultimately decided home field advantage in the playoffs, the Colts were forced to run a new personnel package down on the goal line. Without Clark’s presence, the Colts were stopped short of the endzone on four straight plays.
Clark has always been a valuable but secondary weapon, but his true value was obvious during the 2006 playoffs. After suffering what was first called a season ending knee injury in November, Clark fought to stay off injured reserve. During the four game run to the Super Bowl, Clark was a force. He had 103 yard receiving against the Chiefs, followed it up with a clutch first down against the Ravens, and then pulled in a team high 137 yards receiving in the 38-34 win over the Patriots.
His long catch and run mid-way through the fourth quarter set up the tying field goal for the Colts. My fondest memory of Clark will always be screaming, “BE THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE” as he streaked up the seam and into Pats territory.
Clark posted a breakout season in 2009 with 100 catches, 10 touchdowns, and 1,106 yards receiving. His play earned him both Pro Bowl and All Pro honors. Clark holds all Indianapolis Colts’ records for tight ends, and he recently passed Hall of Famer John Mackey for the most tight end receptions in franchise history. Unfortunately, a severe wrist injury took him out in the 2010 season, and he was never the same again. Throughout 2011 he struggled to make routine catches as his hands were clearly not quite right.
Clark’s impact on the game was never more evident than in the Super Bowl against the Saints. The Saints were so terrified of him, that they geared their entire game plan around taking him away.
He is a beloved member of the community, and the kind of player that was easy for kids to look up to.
We’ll never forget you, 44.
Thanks for the memories, Dallas Clark.