That catch in Baltimore, it was a thing of beauty.
Dallas Clark sprinted to the back corner of the end zone, and Peyton Manning put the ball where only his tight end could get it. Barely.
Clark cupped the football briefly in his right hand, then quickly rose it aloft — balancing it like a waiter might an expensive platter — as he focused on making sure he got his feet inbounds for the touchdown.
It was just one of 53 touchdown catches in an 11-year NFL career. But it’s likely the first one that comes to mind for anyone who follows the Indianapolis Colts on a regular basis.
On Wednesday, Clark officially will retire as a member of the franchise during a news conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. It’s a fitting tribute for a man who etched an undeniable place in Colts history.
He holds team records for receptions (427) and touchdown catches (46) by a tight end, and no NFL player at his position ever has had more receptions (64) or receiving yards (847) in the playoffs.
Clark spent the past two seasons playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens, but just as former center Jeff Saturday did a year ago he’ll sign a one-day contract with Indianapolis to end his career.
“It’s an honor I can’t even explain,” Clark told Colts.com on Monday.
“It’s amazing just the love and support I have for the Colts and fans, but to see it come back toward me ... For the Irsay family and Colts family to do this is an honor, something I can’t thank anyone for enough. It’s so special I can’t even express how awesome it is.”
Tony Dungy, who coached Clark for six seasons in Indianapolis, once said the tight end was the missing piece to the team’s Super Bowl puzzle. His willingness and ability to make tough catches in the middle of the field tested defenses to their limits.