Former 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark, famous for making The Catch, has been diagnosed with ALS.
In a statement released by the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, the two-time Super Bowl champion says he suspects that his football career may have been the cause of the disease.
Clark says he began noticing symptoms in September 2015, with weakness in his left hand that he says he assumed was some sort of nerve damage from his playing days. Now, less than two years later, Clark says his condition has deteriorated to a point where he struggles to walk for any considerable amount of time.
In addition to losing strength in my left hand – which makes opening a pack of sugar or buttoning my shirt impossible – I have now experienced weakness in my right hand, abs, lower back and right leg. I can’t run, play golf or walk any distances. Picking up anything over 30 pounds is a chore.
I’ve been asked if playing football caused this. I don’t know for sure. But I certainly suspect it did. And I encourage the NFLPA and the NFL to continue working together in their efforts to make the game of football safer, especially as it relates to head trauma.
ALS has been linked to football and head trauma, though with anything involving the long-term health effects of football, much more research needs to be done before any connection can be made with much certainty.