Dallas Clark retired today as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. He was one of the many who sort of disappeared after Peyton Manning left. So many of those guys disappeared, just scattered around the league, it was easy to forget some of them were still playing.
Clark joined up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Baltimore Ravens after leaving Indy, and on the rare occasion he popped up on my screen, I remember feeling both surprised and glad that he was still playing, even if it was for someone else. Now, enough time has passed for those guys, like Dallas, to start coming back home.
Clark was the Colts’ representative in the tight end revolution, so I didn’t realize until his speech today that he had switched positions from linebacker to tight end during his college days at the University of Iowa. He thanked his coaches for teaching him the new position, stating that he wouldn’t be here today otherwise.
You could tell Clark was beloved in Indianapolis because of all of the No. 44 jerseys around town. Colts fans clamored to get him on their fantasy football teams. For awhile, his face was one of the four featured on the side of Lucas Oil Stadium. He was a superb player and a stand-up guy who always represented the team and the city well.
In his retirement speech, he was emotional about his days in Indianapolis, making sure to emphasize again and again what a special organization it was. One might almost get the impression that he regretted leaving, though he was gracious toward his latter teams and thanked them for allowing him to keep playing long enough for his small children to hopefully remember the experience.
He was especially emotional on the subject of his teammates, especially Reggie Wayne, who was there in the room for the ceremony, and Manning, thanking them both for their influence on him as a player. He also went out of his way to show support and appreciation for Jim Irsay, who has had his share of trouble the past few months.
As a fan, I’m glad Clark wanted to come back. Especially after seeing the way the alums came back to support the San Antonio Spurs in their championship run, I hope all of the Manning-era Colts want to come back and want to stay connected for years to come.
It should be the dream of every franchise to have that sort of legacy, to be the sort of place where the alums want to come back and stay connected. The Colts organization throws around the word family quite a lot; it’s nice to see it in action. Welcome home, Dallas Clark, and congratulations on a stellar career.