Dec. 23, 2013: In this file photo, former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark is honored during halftime of an NFL football game between the 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons in San Francisco.
Legendary San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark, who was known for his 1982 NFC Championship game heroics when he hauled in “The Catch” of quarterback Joe Montana, he proved the diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (als), also referred to as the Lou Gehrig’s disease.
In a long post shared on Sunday, the two-time Super Bowl champion said that he wasn’t sure his career in the NFL contributed to his diagnosis, but suspected that it could be linked. He said that he first began consulting with doctors a few months ago, after experiencing weakness in his left hand.
I wanted to share some unfortunate news: I have AS. https://t.co/RqU0fFT98g
— Dwight Clark (@DwightC87) March 20, 2017
“In September 2015, I began feeling weakness in my left hand,” the 60-year-old Clark wrote. “I was mildly paying attention to it because since my days of playing, I have constant pain in my neck. I thought it was related to a type of damage to the nerves because it was just come and go.”
Clark, whose brave touch-down catch in the game’s final seconds secured San Francisco’s win over the Dallas Cowboys, he said that he is still struggling with the diagnosis, but plans to face the disease head on and “the life of every day to enjoy.”
“Besides losing the strength in my left hand – which makes opening a pack of sugar, or buttoning my shirt impossible – I now have experienced weakness in my right hand, abs, low back and right leg,” Clark wrote in part. “I can’t run, play golf or hike all distances. Picking up anything over 30 pounds is a chore. The one piece of good news is that the disease seems to be progressing slower than in some patients.”
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He said that he will encourage the NFL and NFL Players Association to work together to continue making the game safer, particularly in relation to head trauma, and that his family has helped him a positive mindset.
“I’m not having a press conference or do interviews,” Clark wrote. “That time will come. Now, I have work to do. I have all of my energy to devote to preparing for this battle and I hope you can respect my family’s privacy as I begin this challenge. My ultimate hope is that eventually, I can help find a cure for als, that disrupts the life of so many people and their loved ones.”
Als is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. While symptoms vary in patients, many experience weakness and have difficulty with the control of speech, swallowing or motor skills. According to the als Association, some patients may live three to five years, while others can live up to 10 years or more. There is currently no cure.