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49ers legend Dwight Clark remembered by former teammate Bruce Collie

The man behind the famous 49ers catch loses battle to ALS

Dwight Clark

SAN ANTONIO – If you're a 49ers or a Cowboys fan, you probably remember "The Catch" of 1981.

The catch resulted in the winning touchdown of the 1981 NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys.

The man behind the catch was two-time Super Bowl champion Dwight Clark.

Clark lost his battle with ALS on Monday. And while many mourn the loss of the NFL legend, someone close to home is mourning their former teammate and dear friend.

Lee High School’s own Bruce Collie played with Clark during the 1985 Super Bowl winning season. 

Collie, who now lives in Wimberly, said he was in shock when he found out about Clark’s passing, even though he and his teammates knew it was a strong possibility.

“It’s really hard because you go from a guy that was the athlete he was and in shape 'til the very last minute, and there was some of us who was thinking, 'If anybody would be able to shake it, it would be him,'” Collie said. “But it just goes to show you that it’s a terrible disease.”

Collie focused heavily on the good memories he had with Clark.

Collie purposefully sought Clark out when he arrived to his rookie training camp.

“He beat my Dallas Cowboys with the catch in 1981 when I was in college at University of Texas in Arlington. I was very upset at him and we laughed about that," Collie said.

The 49ers training camp was held in Rocklin, California, during their time on the team. In that time, they held fishing competitions, at which Clark was very active, Collie said. 

“He also had a restaurant, and the offensive linemen used to go pig out there because we knew we could. He took care of us," Collie said.

Clark took care of his teammates on the field, as well.

“I asked him a lot of questions my rookie year. I know Jerry Rice asked him questions, too. He was just always there, always available," Collie said.

The Wimberly resident shared that Clark had been through plenty in his life, but that he was a fighter who had a strong family unit to help him through his time in a wheelchair and other obstacles he faced with ALS.

Clark considered the NFL his extended family.

"It’s an exclusive club," Collie said. “I know that Dwight Clark was a part of that, and I am proud (to have) known him and played with him. I’m gonna miss him."

Clark was 61 years old and leaves behind his wife and two children, as well as an abundance of memories for those who knew him.