Normally, this column is meant to be a look at the previous game from the previous day, under the clarity and levelheadedness of a good night’s sleep.
But yesterdays game didn’t matter.
Sure, a loss brings with it the further likelihood of a top draft pick in 2018. It brings new storylines and hot takes that people use for those all-important clickthroughs. It provides more tape for the coaching staff to further plan for the offseason and to implement new coaching techniques and overall concepts to focus on as they prepare for their next game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
It still didn’t matter though.
Yesterday was about the “career and life” of Dwight Clark. The wording itself seemed odd leading up to the game. It became clear though that this was more than just a celebration of a game and a play that happened 36 years ago.
“A great teammate is someone who loves you unconditionally. That’s what Dwight showed.” – Ronnie Lott
No, this was a celebration of Dwight Clark. More bluntly, it was a celebration and gathering of the people closest to Clark and who meant the most to him, and a way for Clark to see those that mattered to him and fought with him on the football field “one last time”.
Clark was diagnosed with ALS on March 20th 2017. When the diagnosis was announced, it felt like one of the cruelest jokes a fan of the 49ers could think of. How could something like this happen to one of the nicest and classiest individuals that has ever played in the NFL? Sadly, diseases don’t pick and choose based on the goodness inside or the light in ones spirit.
Watching Dwight fight to keep himself steady as he stepped out of his wheelchair to address The Faithful and his teammates, and watching his deliberate pronunciations of his speech is a sight that’s all too familiar with anyone who has had relatives or friends suffer from debilitating diseases. I hope that Dwight understands how proud The Faithful are seeing the battle he fought just to stand, let alone the war to perform his speech. With diseases like this, positive morale means more than we can understand, and little gestures like this go a long way towards fighting the disease as he needs to.
All of these moments are why an organization like The Golden Heart Fund are so important. Clark talked about how they flew out everyone from the 1981 team and how former owner Eddie DeBartolo has searched out whatever the best and leading treatments are, and even personally flew Clark to Japan to get the best treatment. The hardest thing when suffering a disease like Clark is, is that you feel alone. It’s easy to get into a depression where you feel like no one is there to help, and that you’re all on your own. The Golden Heart Fund shows that not only is Dwight not alone, he has the DeBartolos, the Montanas, and most importantly, The Faithful. The 49ers Organization has created the largest support group in the world, and that can make the difference between time, and the lack of it.
From all of us here at 49ersHUB, we congratulate Dwight Clark on his accomplishments and wish him the best in his fight.
If you would like to donate to the Golden Heart Fund, please visit goldenheartfund.org.