Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Sport | By Ellis Neal

49ers great Dwight Clark announces he has ALS

49ers great Dwight Clark announces he has ALS

Former San Francisco 49ers receiver and Cleveland Browns executive Dwight Clark has ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.

"I've been asked if playing football caused this", Clark wrote.

"Those words are still very hard for me to say", Clark wrote.

Clark continued, "The one piece of good news is that the disease seems to be progressing more slowly than in some patients".

Clark, whose gallant touch down catch in the game's final seconds secured San Francisco's win over the Dallas Cowboys, said he is still struggling with the diagnosis, but plans to face the disease head on and "live every day to the fullest".

A nine-year National Football League career, Clark was a two-time Pro Bowler in 1981 and 1982 with San Francisco, where he spent the entirety of his playing days. He was part of the 49ers' Super Bowl-winning teams in 1981-82 and 1984-85 and is a two-time Pro Bowler. In 8 seasons for the 49ers, Clark totaled 506 catches for 6750 yards and 48 touchdowns in 134 career games. He encourages the NFL and the players' association to work together in making football safer. "Picking up anything over 30 pounds is a chore", he wrote.

The deal also called for baseline medical exams for retired National Football League players and monetary awards for those who are diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, dementia, ALS and certain cases of CTE. "We will stand alongside Dwight and his family as they wage this battle", York said. After visits to six neurologists and three ALS specialists, Clark was told he had the terminal neuromuscular condition which affects control of muscles needed to move, speak, eat and breathe. Your support over the last 35 years has allowed me to remain connected to you. "We vow to do everything in our power to support Dwight and Kelly and help them fight this terrible disease".

Clark revealed the loss of strength in his left hand is so significant he can not open a pack of sugar or button up his shirt. She has been my rock. "I didn't realize at the time that people would keep talking about it".

Clark highlighted the strength and unconditional love he's received from his wife Kelly, along with his brother Jeff and his wife and children.

"I'm not having a press conference or doing any interviews". "I've got to devote all my energy preparing for this battle and I would hope you can respect my family's privacy as I begin this challenge".

The 49ers legend finished by writing, "My ultimate hope is that eventually I can assist in finding a cure for ALS, which disrupts the lives of so many and their loved ones".

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