Earl (Dutch) Clark
Earl (Dutch) Clark
  • Pos:
  • HT:
  • WT:
  • College(s)
    Colorado College
  • Yrs w/Teams
    1931-1932 Portsmouth Spartans
    1934-1938 Detroit Lions


Dutch Clark’s story doesn’t fit the ordinary picture of an all-time great. In 1929, he became the first Colorado College football star to be named All-America, yet he didn’t play pro football until almost two years after he graduated, when he joined the Portsmouth Spartans for the 1931 season.

He retired from the pro game after two All-Pro seasons to become head coach at the tiny Colorado School of Mines. However, Clark returned to pro football in 1934 rejoining his team, which by then had been sold and had become the Detroit Lions. For the next five years, Clark, from his tailback position, was the general in Detroit's famed infantry attack that in 1936 set a team rushing record that stood for 36 years.

He was called the quarterback because he called the plays. A true triple-threat back, Dutch consistently finished among the leaders in rushing and once completed 53.5 percent of his passes in a season when the league average was just 36.5 percent. He also led the league in scoring three times, kicked field goals and extra points and, is generally considered the last of the great drop kickers.

The versatile Clark was All-NFL six of the seven seasons he played. Although a great athlete, Dutch was not particularly fast and had such poor eyesight he had trouble seeing his receivers. According to teammates, though, he had the uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time. Furthermore his teammates swore that no one could follow blockers as well as Dutch.

Humble, Clark was always conscious of his role as team leader. So unassuming, he sometimes avoided calling plays directed his way for fear of hogging the limelight. “If Dutch stepped on the field with Red Grange, Jim Thorpe, and George Gipp,” a rival coach once said, “Dutch would be the general.”

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