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Dwight Clark dies at 61, but his catch against the Cowboys will live forever

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The NFL lost one of its best on Monday in Dwight Clark.

Dwight Clark plays Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Everyone remembers the first time they had their heart broken. Maybe it was being dumped by their first love? Or maybe one of their beloved pets got ran over by a car? For me, it was when Dwight Clark jumped up 30 feet into the air and made one of the most infamous catches in NFL history. It went down like this if you haven’t seen it a thousand times already...

On Monday, Clark passed away after a three-year battle with ALS.

While the image of Clark leaping through the air will be ingrained in the minds of San Francisco 49ers fans forever, it lingers around for Cowboys fans as well. The NFC Championship of the 1981 season was the first time I actually sensed that the Cowboys were going to the Super Bowl. I lived in central California, right in the heart of 49ers country so the thought of Dallas losing to them would add insult to injury. The Cowboys took the lead, 27-21, late in the fourth quarter when Danny White hit Doug Cosbie for a 21-yard touchdown. The 49ers would now have to drive the length off the field against the Doomsday defense in order to pull off the win. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they did. Joe Montana, in one of the first of his many legendary moments, would orchestrate a perfect drive that was capped off with a catch that would end up on the cover of sports magazines across the nation.

It’s one of the most iconic moments in NFL History. It transcends sports. The moment the 49ers dynasty was born was so iconic in fact that it was called by both Vin Scully AND Verne Lundquist. It was actually Scully’s last NFL game.

Clark played nine seasons in the NFL, all with the 49ers. He would finish with 506 catches, 6,750 yards, and 48 touchdowns. He won two Super Bowls (XVI, XIX) with San Francisco, and he made the Pro Bowl in 1981 and 1982. He led the league in receptions in 1982, his only All-Pro season.

After retiring, Clark served as a team executive for the 49ers and then become the GM of the Cleveland Browns.

Cheers to Dwight Clark. He once ruined our season, but he lived an extraordinary life.