Gary Clark from JMU
I was headed to Western Illinois University for graduate school in 1979. But they were mean to me. So I heard that James Madison University had a sports administration program.
Heck, that was much closer to my home in DC. So I head to the mountains. My new roommate, greeted me while he worked on his car: “Oh, you are from the state of Northern Virginia,” he said.
Heck, that’s a great line. JMU was OK. The girls were very pretty.
So, I volunteered to work in sports information. And I was hired for no cash. That’s where I spotted a very special receiver.
Now please don’t take this the wrong way. But I was so impressed that I brought out paper and pen and wrote a letter to my favorite football team in the world. Dear Washington Redskins, there is a super receiver here at JMU. His name is Gary Clark.
Did the Skins sign Clark because of this note from the state of Southern Virginia. Yeah right.
Anyway, the Skins eventually grabbed Clark two years after he left the Dukes. He headed further South after college and found the Jacksonville Bulls of the USFL. Anyone remember that team?
So what kind of player did the Skins get from JMU and the USFL? A fabulous player that’s for sure.
That first season in the NFL (much bigger than the USFL), Clark snagged 72 passes good for 926 yards. And to prove that was no fluke, he came back the next season to grab 74 passes for 1,265 yards. He was an immediate star.
This four-time pro bowler played in two Skins’ Super Bowls. In the romp over Denver, he caught three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown from Doug Williams. He even broke out a 25-yard run from scrimmage. That’s the Super Bowl where we fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter and then scored 42 unanswered points. Oh that was fun.
The Super Bowl of 1992 brought in 15-game winner Buffalo against 17-game winner Washington. Clark’s contribution came in the third quarter. That’s when he caught a 30-yard TD pass from Mark Rypien. Despite two late scores from the Bills it was still a Redskins’ romp to the tune of 37-24.
In the meantime, he was piling up the receptions year by year. Beginning in 1989, he returned to the 70 or more catches category. It was a high of 79 catches in 1989.
Heck, I don’t even recall losing Clark late in his career. No. 84 would also catch footballs for the Cardinals and Dolphins. His stellar career would finish one catch short of the 700 mark. He also chalked up 10,856 yards and 65 touchdowns.
Take that Western Illinois. James Madison produced one heck of a player in Clark.