INDIANAPOLIS (BVM) – Dallas Clark has taken the saying, “the best journey takes you home” to heart. The former University of Iowa and NFL standout lives his life back in his hometown of Livermore, Iowa, a city with a population of just 381 as of the 2020 census. This is where Clark came from, humble beginnings, and that is where he is most comfortable.
Today, the former Indianapolis Colts All-Pro tight end owns more than 100 acres of farmland in his hometown, preferring the rural life of a farmer to the glitz and glamor of a professional athlete. The decision to be back in his native Iowa, working hard each day when many of his retired NFL counterparts live in luxurious mansions or going on vacation, makes sense for Clark given his background. All he’s ever known is hard work and dedication and without that, it’s quite possible nobody would have even heard of the star football player from little Livermore, Iowa.
Early life and high school football
Clark was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota but his roots are firmly planted in Iowa. He was a standout athlete at Twin River Valley High School in Bode, Iowa, earning numerous varsity letters in football, basketball and track and field. At one point he even broke his school’s high hurdles and low hurdles records on the same day.
While an incredible athlete regardless of the discipline, Clark’s best play came on the football field where he played linebacker like his older brother Derrik, who went on to play at Iowa State. Clark finished his own career at Twin River Valley as a back-to-back all-conference selection and as a second-team all-state linebacker as a senior.
Despite success at the prep level, Clark didn’t receive much attention from major colleges and instead made the decision to walk on at the University of Iowa.
Enrolling at Iowa, Clark began his journey as a walk-on linebacker for the Hawkeyes in 1998 where he redshirted with a broken collarbone. The next season, Clark may have seen game action, but an emergency appendectomy threw off any chances he had as he missed the entire 1999 season. In 2000, Clark finally broke through the lineup to see work as a third-string linebacker and as a special teamer, but he didn’t seem destined for stardom.
Enter Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz who suggested the struggling linebacker switch over to the offense and play tight end. Though Clark had some experience catching the football from his other older brother Dan who had played quarterback, he wasn’t planning on ever playing offense. After some convincing, Clark finally relented which changed the course of his football career forever.
In his sophomore year of 2001, Clark made the full-time switch to tight end, playing in all 12 of the team’s games with 10 starts. For the season, he recorded 38 catches for 539 yards and four touchdowns on his way to all-Big Ten Conference honorable mention.
The next season, Clark became a household name. Playing and starting all 13 of the Hawkeyes games, Clark caught 43 passes for 742 yards and four touchdowns. This earned Clark unanimous consensus first-team All-American honors and the John Mackey Award as the best tight end in the nation in 2002. The tight end, despite being green at the position, finished his Iowa career with 81 receptions for 1,281 yards and eight touchdowns in just two seasons.
He was inducted into the Iowa Letterwinners Club Hall of Fame in September.
A highlight for our @TheIowaHawkeyes Hall-of-Famer, Dallas Clark.
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) September 1, 2022
Forgoing his senior season, Clark entered the 2003 NFL Draft with a lot of hype. The tight end didn’t have to wait long to hear his name called as he was selected with the No. 23 overall pick in the first round by the Indianapolis Colts. Joining a squad already filled with standout players like Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, Clark was able to add another dynamic to the potent offense.
Over nine seasons in Indianapolis, Clark became one of the best tight ends in the league during a time when the position was just coming into its own in the passing game. In nine years, Clark played 115 games with 111 starts for the Colts, registering 427 catches for 4,887 yards and 46 touchdowns.
His best statistical season came in 2009 when he caught 100 passes for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns while earning first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. By the time he left Indianapolis in 2012, Clark had played in two Super Bowls with the Colts, winning one, and was named a one-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler.
Clark signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012, playing in all 16 games with seven starts and recording 47 catches for 435 yards and four touchdowns. In 2013, Clark went to the Baltimore Ravens where he played in 12 games with zero starts but still caught 31 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns.
In June 2014, Clark announced his retirement from the NFL after 11 seasons. He finished his NFL career with 505 catches for 5,665 yards and 53 touchdowns in 143 games with 118 starts.
Since his retirement, Clark has lived a life mostly out of the spotlight, only occasionally coming back for NFL events on occasion. In the meantime, the former All-Pro tight end has worked on his farm and taken up a new athletic journey: Ironman competitions.
An Ironman competition is a grueling triathlon that has participants swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles all in a single day. In April, Clark completed a half-Ironman in five hours and 40 minutes in Oceanside, California and is set to do his first full Ironman at the 2022 Ironman World Championship on Oct. 6 and 8 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Clark’s hope is to raise money for Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis and the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital through his participation.
On Sept. 3, Clark will also be back on campus at the University of Iowa where he will serve as the Hawkeyes’ honorary captain for the team’s game against South Dakota State at Kinnick Stadium.
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) September 1, 2022
Despite this captaincy, don’t expect Clark to jump back into the spotlight anytime soon. Given his small-town upbringing and current life back in his hometown, expect Clark to stick to his farm and enjoy the fruits of his labor.