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In Fairness To Gary Clark

Posted by Matt Terl on March 16, 2010 – 12:30 pm

When Larry Johnson signed on Friday, he told me a story about former Redskins great Gary Clark. It was a story about how Johnson grew up a Redskins fan and about why Johnson tries to sign every autograph the fans ask for; I thought it showed a different side of a guy who has some knocks against him, so I posted it.

It didn’t occur to me at the time that it could be perceived as a slight to Clark, though. When Johnson told the story, it was in the context of how much he looked up to those guys and how enthusiastically he rooted for the team. His tone wasn’t critical or negative toward Clark, but reading it cold I can certainly see how it was taken that way by some.

In addition to comments like those linked above, the blog Fatpickled posted an even more detailed memory of an autograph encounter with Clark:

I was visiting Redskins Park in January of 1988, the last day before the Redskins headed off to San Diego to completely destroy the Broncos 42-10. I arrived early that day and was the only person in the lobby when Gary Clark walked right by me at a brisk pace, headed upstairs to where the admin offices were located. I quickly asked Gary if he would sign an autograph for me, he informed me that he was in a hurry and could not sign for me. Even at 13 years old, I remember this being a WTF moment? I’m the only person in this lobby and he’s not going to take 30 seconds to sign for me? He spent more time explaining why he couldn’t sign than it actually would have taken to sign. I was bummed.

Later, though, when Redskins Park had gotten crowded, this is what happened to young Fatpickle:

As I was sitting on the stairs watching all the mayhem, I heard a psst, psst noise coming from the 2nd floor above my head. As I turned and looked up I was amazed to see Gary Clark waving me up the stairs. I collected my things and bounded up the stairs to meet Gary and who else should be sitting up on the 2nd floor…Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgensen, who was enjoying a large cigar. Gary happily signed for me and even promised to catch a TD for me in the Super Bowl (he did.) As an added bonus I was able to also secure the autographs of 2 Hall of Famers.

So there you go: Johnson’s story wasn’t meant to sound negative, and it wasn’t nearly representative of the guy that Gary Clark was all the time. Now that that’s all cleared up, let’s enjoy these fantastic pictures from Clark’s appearance in the 1991 Pro Bowl.

(Click images to see a larger version.)

Clark in action during the game.

Clark alongside RB Earnest Byner, who is wearing Atlanta Falcons zubaz pants.

Clark alongside Jerry Rice, Sterling Sharpe, Andre Rison, and future Redskins playcaller Sherm Lewis. (Yes, yes, insert bingo joke here if you must.)

Clark with Barry Sanders. Clark was a Smurfy wide receiver, so the height comparison here really points out just how amazing Sanders was.

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One Response to “In Fairness To Gary Clark”

  1. By m007mrq on Jun 23, 2013 | Reply

    Just to let everybody know…..Gary Clark is a friend of mine. I have never seen him refuse an autograph for anybody. I have seen him go way out of his way to make sure to meet his fans personally,and make sure they got an autograph. Gary Clark is a class individual….as is his entire family..Gary Clark exercised the golden rule. He treated people the way he wanted to be treated. Gary gave over and above to his family and friends and to the fans. Gary Clark is a good friend to have without his fame and money. The NFL needs more Gary Clarks.

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