John Madden always used to heap praise on Gary Clark during those memorable 4:00 PM CBS broadcasts that were a hallmark of the Redskins’ glory days.
The somewhat-undersized Clark was a favorite of Madden’s for his competitive fire, his tenacity, and his ability to make clutch, game-changing plays. Madden routinely began his paeans to Clark by saying, “If I were starting a team tomorrow, I’d want that guy,” or words to that effect.
Clark had a somewhat unlikely path to NFL stardom. He was an honorable-mention All-American twice at I-AA James Madison University. From there, he played in the USFL in 1984 and 1985.
When the USFL folded, the Redskins still owned the rights to Clark after picking him in the ‘84 Supplemental Draft. After having already played for the USFL’s Jacksonville Bulls in (spring) 1985, Clark signed with the Redskins and played a full NFL season that same year. He made an immediate impact, hauling in 72 balls for over 900 yards and scoring five touchdowns.
Clark came into his own in 1986, posting his first of five 1,000-yard seasons with Washington. It was also his first Pro Bowl year. By 1987, he was an All-Pro pick. He made the Pro Bowl again in 1990 and 1991.
He was a member of the dangerous “Posse” receiving corps that also included Ricky Sanders and Hall-of-Famer Art Monk. In all, Clark finished his NFL career with 699 receptions and 10,856 yards. He scored 65 touchdowns, 58 of which came with Washington.
Clark was also a postseason mainstay, consistently delivering solid contributions. He played on five playoff teams with the Redskins. In his final 10 playoff games with Washington, covering four seasons, he had at least three receptions in each contest. He had a touchdown reception in each of the two Super Bowl victories in which he played.
Clark may get overlooked to some extent because he overlapped with the beloved Art Monk, who set the NFL reception record with the Redskins. However, there’s no question that, at his peak, Gary Clark was among the most dangerous receivers in the NFL—and perhaps the toughest competitor of them all.
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