Dallas Clark was one of the best tight ends in Indianapolis Colts franchise history.
All Clark did was eclipse John Mackey’s team records for tight ends during his memorable nine-year career with the Horseshoe from 2003 to 2011.
When Clark retired in 2014, he had 5,665 receiving yards and 53 touchdowns on 505 receptions.
Not bad for a former Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker who didn’t want to become a tight end at first.
Clark’s decision to become a tight end during the latter part of his stay in Iowa was one of the best he ever made.
Clark racked up several accolades as his time on the college gridiron wound down. He promptly picked up where he left off and helped the Colts win their first Super Bowl title since moving to Indianapolis in 1984.
Truly, Dallas Clark was a matchup nightmare for opponents. He set the bar high for tight ends in the National Football League.
Dallas Dean Clark was born to parents Doug and Jan in Sioux Falls, SD on June 12, 1979. He has two brothers: Dan and Derrik.
All three of the brothers played college football. Dallas was a tight end for the Iowa Hawkeyes, Dan was a quarterback for the Simpson Storm, and Derrik was a linebacker for the Iowa State Cyclones.
Doug and Jan Clark divorced when Dallas was growing up in Livermore, IA. Jan, a city clerk, looked after her three sons and never missed any of their games, per ESPN’s Jeffri Chadiha.
A first glance at Saturday's Messenger sports section. Livermore native and former Twin River Valley all-stater Dallas Clark receives his University of Iowa Hall call (by @ChrisJohnson_17). Another win for the St. Edmond softball team (by @DanaBecker). pic.twitter.com/8bwT6jyNDQ
— Eric Pratt (@ByEricPratt) June 4, 2022
Dallas Clark attended Twin River Valley High School in Bode, IA.
Clark played quarterback for his high school football team. Iowa Hawkeyes strength coach Chris Doyle told ESPN’s John Clayton in the spring of 2003 that Clark was just a mediocre quarterback.
Despite Clark’s shortcomings as a signal caller, his athleticism was off the charts. Doyle even considered Clark the best local high school athlete at the time.
Dallas Clark would prove Chris Doyle’s point in his NFL workouts and 11-year pro football career.
Clark experienced unspeakable tragedy just three days before his high school graduation – his mother Jan succumbed to a fatal heart attack while cleaning the family garage in 1998. Dallas and his aunt Judy Jacobson tried to revive her, to no avail.
Jan Clark was 49 years old.
When Clark was already an established seven-year NFL veteran in 2009, he told Chadiha that he regretted his mother not seeing him play in the pro football ranks, catch his first touchdown, and become a new father to his then-seven-month-old son, Dane.
Despite the horrific tragedy, Dallas Clark eventually trudged forward and became one of the best tight ends in Iowa Hawkeyes football history.
College Days With The Iowa Hawkeyes
Dallas Clark attended the University of Iowa from 1998 to 2002. He suited up for legendary Iowa Hawkeyes head football coach Kirk Ferentz.
According to The Messenger’s Chris Johnson, Clark started as a part-time student due to a fractured collarbone in 1998.
He became a full-time student and member of the Hawkeyes football team a year later. Clark’s college football career got off to a rough start. He underwent an emergency appendectomy before the 1999 NCAA campaign kicked off against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Consequently, Clark didn’t take the field that year. The Hawkeyes recorded an abysmal 1-10 win-loss record and missed the postseason for the second straight year.
Clark experienced a massive turning point in his football career in the summer of 2000 – his second year with the Hawkeyes.
It was at this time that Ferentz reached out to Clark and asked him to switch to the tight end position. Clark was already accustomed to playing linebacker. He had earned All-State honors playing that position in high school.
Plus, his brother Derrik also played linebacker for the Hawkeyes’ in-state rivals, the Iowa State Cyclones.
Dallas Clark told Ferentz in no uncertain terms that he had no inkling to become a tight end. His reason was that he wanted to become a better linebacker than his brother Derrik.
“I thought Coach (Ferentz) had lost his mind,” Clark told The Messenger in the summer of 2022. “I came to the University of Iowa with a purpose. My brother was a linebacker at Iowa State, and we were taught and that’s what I do and what we do.”
Ferentz also called Clark’s father regarding his plan for Dallas. Both men tried their best to convince him to make the switch.
Apparently, a light went off in Ferentz’s head after he saw Clark catching passes from two quarterbacks – his older brother Dan, a Simpson College alumnus, and his roommate and teammate, Kyle McCann.
Clark told The Messenger some twenty-two years later that he removed his gloves while playing catch with McAnn in oppressive, 100-degree heat. When Clark caught McCann’s passes with his bare hands, it was like second nature.
At that point, Clark thought Ferentz was on to something.
Ferentz spoke highly of Clark’s exceptional change of direction. He and his assistants had never seen a potential tight end do that.
He also envisioned Dallas Clark becoming the second Marv Cook, a former Hawkeyes Consensus All-American tight end who became a Pro Bowler with the NFL’s New England Patriots.
Clark was still iffy about the idea of switching to tight end when Ferentz, who remained undaunted, summoned him into his office prior to spring practice in 2000.
Clark didn’t have the best spring practice on the defensive side of the ball. On the other hand, he recorded a touchdown in the Hawkeyes’ spring game.
Before long, Dallas Clark relented and became a tight end – a position that allowed him to earn several accolades as his college football career progressed.
“When I switched to tight end, it was like finding a treasure and unveiling it,” Clark told Johnson in the summer of 2022. “It came so naturally to me and it was so much fun.”
Clark took the field at special teams for the Hawkeyes to begin the 2000 NCAA campaign. He then recorded six tackles at linebacker before concluding his second year in the college football ranks.
Iowa won just three games in 2000 and extended its bowl drought to three years.
When the 2001 NCAA season kicked off, Dallas Clark became the Iowa Hawkeyes’ bona fide tight end threat. His switch to tight end coincided with him earning a full scholarship that year.
Prior to earning the scholarship, Clark worked for the university’s grounds services in the summer. Part of his job included mowing the Kinnick Stadium grass, per Johnson.
It turned out Kirk Ferentz’s hunch was right all along – Dallas Clark was born to be a tight end.
Clark had a combined 1,281 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches on 81 receptions in his final two seasons at Iowa from 2001 to 2002.
The Hawkeyes averaged nine wins per year during that span. Behind Clark’s exploits at tight end, they won the Big Ten title in 2002.
Iowa made consecutive bowl appearances from 2001 to 2002 including a 19-16 victory over the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the 2001 Alamo Bowl.
Clark earned First-Team All-Big Ten and Unanimous All-American honors following his emergence at tight end in 2002. He also won the 2002 John Mackey Award, an accolade for the most outstanding tight end in the college football ranks.
Clark decided to forego his senior season at Iowa and declare for the 2003 NFL Draft.
Dallas Clark’s metamorphosis from linebacker to tight end was now complete. He carried his momentum into the National Football League where he would help the Indianapolis Colts become perennial Super Bowl contenders.
Pro Football Career
The Indianapolis Colts made Dallas Clark the 24th overall selection of the 2003 NFL Draft.
It didn’t take long for Clark to serve notice that he was one of the most athletic tight ends in recent memory.
Clark’s 3.85 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle, 6.33 seconds in the three-cone drill, and 37.5-inch vertical jump mesmerized coaches and scouts in his workouts prior to the draft, per Clayton.
It turned out Clark’s strength coach at Iowa, Chris Doyle, was right about his tight end prospects. He had otherworldly athleticism from the get-go.
The athletic Clark joined a Colts juggernaut in head coach Tony Dungy’s second season at the helm in 2003.
Clark became another weapon of a Colts squad that had quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receivers – Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Brandon Stokley, running back Edgerrin James, tight end Marcus Pollard, and defensive end Dwight Freeney.
“For me to get with a team that was loaded with so many not just great athletes but people, it was a jackpot – a complete jackpot,” Clark told the Colts’ official website in the summer of 2014.
For his part, Dungy told Colts.com that year that Clark fit seamlessly with Indy’s offense. If the defense tried to shackle him with linebackers, the Colts coaches split him out and exploited the mismatch.
On the other hand, if the defense put a nickelback on him, they’d make him play his usual tight end role. Either way, Dungy had the luxury of exploiting various matchups without substituting consistently.
Long story short, Dallas Clark was a matchup nightmare for the opposition.
Clark had little trouble adjusting to the pro game despite playing tight end for just two seasons at Iowa. He had 763 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 54 receptions in his first two seasons in the National Football League.
Clark became the Colts’ No. 1 tight end after Marcus Pollard signed with the Detroit Lions in 2005.
#Colts highlights day 27
55 days to go!
September 21, 2009
On the first play of the game, Peyton Manning finds Dallas Clark along the seam, and Clark fights off defenders on his way to this 80 yard TD. The Colts had the ball less than 15 minutes, and won 27-23. #ForTheShoe pic.twitter.com/xYNEHy2bRW
— Colts Coverage (@Colts_Coverage) July 18, 2022
Clark was at his absolute best in the 2006 postseason. Although he hadn’t become a Pro Bowler at that point in his four-year pro football career, it became increasingly evident that his time would come sooner rather than later.
Some of Indianapolis’ wide receivers – most notably Brandon Stokley – succumbed to injury during the team’s memorable Super Bowl run in 2006.
Although Dallas Clark wasn’t a natural wide receiver, he essentially played like one in the postseason.
Clark’s tremendous crunch-time reception against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2006 AFC Divisional Round was a perfect example.
Indianapolis spotted the ball on Baltimore’s 46-yard line on 3rd down with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning called for an out route.
Seconds after center Jeff Saturday snapped the pigskin to Manning, Clark ran the 12-yard out route.
Clark then extended his arm and outmaneuvered Ravens cornerback Corey Ivy for the improbable catch. This was Clark’s favorite catch among the 505 he hauled in during his 11-year pro football career.
Clark’s heroics allowed Indianapolis to move the sticks, milk the clock, and preserve a hard-earned 15-6 triumph.
Clark picked up where he left off in Indy’s memorable 38-34 victory against the New England Patriots in the 2006 AFC Championship Game.
He had 137 receiving yards on six receptions to help secure the Colts’ first trip to the Super Bowl since moving to Indianapolis more than two decades earlier.
The Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI several weeks later. Dallas Clark had earned his first and only Super Bowl ring.
Clark’s 347 receiving yards on 21 receptions were the most by a tight end in a postseason as of 2014, per Colts.com.
“His 2006 playoff run in my opinion will go down as one of the most impressive accomplishments for any tight end,” Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, Clark’s roommate on road trips, told the team’s official website eight years later.
Clark continued playing at a high level in his next five seasons in Indianapolis.
In fact, Clark had at least 10 touchdown receptions twice during those five years. He also had 1,106 receiving yards in his breakout 2009 season.
— Naptown Talk (@naptowntalkpod) July 22, 2022
Few tight ends could record double-digit touchdown receptions and at least 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Clark was one of the few exceptions. He was in a stratosphere of his own.
Dallas Clark dabbled in acting during the pinnacle of his memorable NFL career. He made a cameo appearance on the CBS drama series Criminal Minds in the spring of 2011.
Clark’s foray into acting coincided with the beginning of the 2011 NFL lockout.
“This has nothing to do with money,” Clark told The Associated Press (via ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky) in March 2011. “This is fulfilling a dream of mine of being an actor.”
Dallas Clark’s memorable nine-year run in Indianapolis officially ended in the spring of 2012 when the Colts released him.
He signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in May 2012.
The Bucs won seven games and missed the postseason for the eighth time in ten years in Clark’s only season with the team.
Clark signed a one-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens in the summer of 2013.
Clark told Colts.com in 2014 that he wore No. 87 in Baltimore as a tribute to his teammate in Indianapolis, wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
When Clark first reported for work with the Ravens, his old No. 44 was already taken. When he saw No. 87 was still available, he didn’t hesitate to take it.
“To watch him work every day, that’s what a pro looks like,” Clark said of Wayne in 2014. “That helped me think, ‘Okay, that’s how I have to work.'”
The Ravens won eight games and missed the postseason just one year after beating the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
Dallas Clark finished his 11-year NFL career with 5,665 receiving yards and 53 touchdowns on 505 receptions.
Clark was so good that he eclipsed legendary Colts tight end John Mackey’s franchise records for a tight end. The latter is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and had 5,236 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns on 331 receptions from 1963 to 1972.
Dallas Clark also became just the second tight end in NFL history to record 100 receptions in a season.
He pulled off the elusive feat in the 2009 NFL campaign when he earned his first and only Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro berths.
The Colts averaged 11 wins per year in Clark’s nine years with the squad. They won seven division titles and one Super Bowl title with him as their tight end from 2003 to 2011.
While Clark had many memorable games during his pro football career, he cherished his camaraderie with his teammates the most.
“You remember bus rides, plane rides, smoking cigars after victories,” Clark told Colts.com in June 2014 when he retired as a member of the organization. “To have those friendships continue past playing is the reward that means the most.”
Dallas Clark, his wife Karen, their two sons Dane and Camden, and daughter Hazel currently reside in the Livermore, IA area.
Clark and his family previously lived in the Zionsville, IN area during his 11-year pro football career.
Eight months after Clark retired from the National Football League, he told The Messenger in January 2015 that he and his wife wanted to bring their kids back to their old stomping grounds in Iowa. Clark felt the slower pace of life in his home state would benefit his children in the long run.
“Indianapolis is a phenomenal town and it definitely won’t be easy to leave, but it isn’t home,” Clark told The Messenger at the time. “At the end of the day, Iowa is home.”
Prior to moving back to Iowa, Clark and his family had already established deep roots in the Hawkeye State.
When Clark’s grandmother passed away, he bought the old 1917 Chicago Northwestern Railroad train depot in Algona, IA using his earnings from the National Football League.
The Clark family developed the Clark Century Farm on those same grounds in 2008. Before long, Dallas Clark’s father-in-law Steve Larson, a wine connoisseur, planted 500 vines on the property and eventually became the manager of the new family business, the Train Wreck Winery.
Clark helped operate the winery from a distance while he was still playing professional football. When he retired in the summer of 2014, he wanted to become more involved, per The Messenger.
He made good on his promise. Clark is a hands-on farmer in every sense of the word. According to The Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer, Clark harvests corn and soybeans on his family farm in Iowa by himself.
Sometimes, Clark’s three children help him. However, he relies on his own manual labor for the most part.
When Keefer asked Clark if he’d pursue a career in football coaching, he loved the idea although the demands on his time made him think twice.
Clark did some football commentary for the UK’s Sky Sports in the fall of 2016.
The University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame will enshrine Dallas Clark on September 2, 2022.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen,” Clark told Johnson in June 2022.
Dallas Clark has remained in tip-top shape well into his forties. In fact, he’s been passionate about triathlons.
Clark’s passion for triathlons stemmed from a casual conversation with a friend at a county fair in Iowa in the summer of 2021, per FOX 59’s Mike Chappell.
That friend told him running in a marathon might be his cup of tea.
It wasn’t. Clark felt marathons weren’t as satisfying as triathlons. At that moment, the thought of joining the Ironman entered his mind.
Clark dug his heels in and researched whatever he could find on triathlons. He eventually discovered his friend and co-trainee at the St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis, IN, and Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan participated in Ironman competitions.
Clark then reached out to six-time World Ironman title holder Mark Allen sometime afterward. The former’s rigorous training has taken him from snowy Iowa to sunny California.
Clark ultimately compared triathlons to running like a tight end on the gridiron. He has to block defensive ends before jostling for position against linebackers and safeties, per Chappell.
Clark participated in a half ironman in April 2022. He also took part in the Indy Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis, IN a month later.
He will compete in the Kona Ironman Championship in Hawaii in October 2022, per Johnson.
Dallas Clark’s goal isn’t just to remain in tremendous physical shape – joining the prestigious triathlon in Hawaii will help him raise $2 million to support two children’s hospitals through his Project44 campaign, per Chappell.
Clark told his Colts quarterback Peyton Manning about his lofty ambition when the two former teammates visited Indianapolis one day.
Manning wasn’t sure the triathlon could raise even $1 million.
For his part, Clark remained unfazed. He told Manning that they’ll never know unless they gave it a shot.
Clark previously held off on working out for a year after he retired from the National Football League in 2014 to give his body time to recuperate after an 11-year grind on the football field.
Surprisingly, Clark’s body began to hurt more instead of healing faster. He took it as a sign he needed to take care of his body again.
Clark took nothing to chance. He resumed strength training, ran, and played basketball.
“I’m not addicted to working out, but I feel fulfilled after I work out,” Clark told Chappell in the spring of 2022. “I need it. I want it.”
Dallas Clark and his family visit Indianapolis, IN on special occasions such as the Super Bowl XLI reunion in November 2017.