News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Pro Sports

June 16, 2014

Team’s all-time top tight end Clark to retire as Colt

INDIANAPOLIS — Jeff Saturday did it last year, returning to the Indianapolis Colts after a brief stint as a center with the Green Bay Packers and officially ending his National Football League career with the team where he had his most success.

Now it looks like Dallas Clark will be following in Saturday’s footsteps. Clark, a first-round draft pick by Indianapolis in 2003, will be announcing his retirement from the NFL Wednesday morning at the team’s Indiana Farm Bureau complex.

“It’s an honor I can’t even explain,” Clark told Colts.com. “It’s amazing just the love and support I have for the Colts and fans, but to see it come back toward me [is humbling].

“For the Irsay family and Colts family to do this is an honor, something I can’t thank anyone for enough.  It’s so special I can’t even express how awesome it is.”

The all-time receiving leader as a tight end in Colts franchise history, the former Iowa standout played one season with Tampa Bay in 2012 and was with the Baltimore Ravens last season.

During his nine seasons (2003-2011) in an Indianapolis uniform, Clark set franchise records for the most career receptions (427) and receiving touchdowns (46) by a tight end while finishing second in receiving yards (4,887) and 100-yard games (seven).

The versatile receiver now ranks fourth in franchise history in receptions, sixth in receiving touchdowns and eighth in receiving yards.

Used as a slot receiver more than a traditional end-line blocker in the Indianapolis offense, Clark set team tight end seasonal marks in receptions (100 in 2009), receiving yards (1,106 in 2009) and touchdowns (11 in 2007).

With him as a starter, the Colts were 84-31 with seven AFC South titles, two AFC championships, two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl crown.

“We knew what we were doing was special, but it took for me to go to another team to fully realize it,” Clark added. “For us, it was like, ‘This is how you play football. This is how you win. This is how you do it.’ That’s what we did. Rarely did we allow ourselves to say, ‘Wow, we’re awesome.’

“We were just so narrowly focused it was like, ‘Let’s go win another one.’ That’s the reason we could come back each year and have 12-plus wins. Never did we hit cruise control. It always was about getting better. It was, ‘What can we do this year? Let’s go win it.’ That was the excitement about being in that group and focus, where your best effort was the only thing that was acceptable. That’s special.”

Clark was the second tight end in NFL history to post 100-plus receptions and the first tight end in franchise history to record 1,000-plus receiving yards in a season and was often at his best in the postseason. He had 64 receptions for 847 yards during the playoffs, both of which are NFL records by a tight end, while his four touchdowns are tied for sixth.

During the Colts’ championship run to Super Bowl XLI in 2006, he posted the highest receiving yardage total (317) by an NFL tight end in a single postseason since 1970 and his 21 receptions ranked second.

Perhaps his most memorable catch during that Super Bowl run came late in an AFC playoff win over Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium. Clark’s diving, double-clutch reception of a low-and-away Peyton Manning third-down pass — coming with two Baltimore defenders bracketing him — accounted for 14 yards and allowed Indianapolis to run out the clock in a 15-6 victory.

The play set up Adam Vinatieri’s fifth and final field goal of the game.

“That was a huge play in the game. I remember thinking, ‘We’re up six points. If we can make a first down, we can pretty much ice the game. If we don’t, they have a chance to score and as well as we’ve played, we’re going to lose by one point,’ ” former Colts head coach Tony Dungy told the team’s website.

“We knew what the coverage was going to be and that he was the guy to get the ball. It was a matter of if he could make the play. Peyton had to throw it quickly before Dallas came out of his break. The coverage was tight, and it was a ball Dallas didn’t completely get his hands on. He caught it with his forearms because that was the only spot where the ball could go. It was one of those great plays that sent us to the championship game. He made a lot of catches, but that was one that did win a game for us.”  

In an 11-year NFL career with the Colts, Buccaneers and Ravens, Clark had 505 total receptions for 5,665 yards and 53 touchdowns in 143 games. In terms of tight ends, he is tied for sixth in NFL history in receiving touchdowns, tied for eighth in receptions and 15th in receiving yards.

 

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