In 1931, Dutch Clark decided to take a chance and go play for the Portsmouth Spartans of the NFL. After a successful collegiate career at Colorado College, Clark stayed at Colorado and worked as an assistant and coach the school’s basketball team. But, after one year on the sidelines, and after what was a spectacular career in college in which he averaged 10-plus yards on the ground as a junior, rushed for 1,349 yards and scored 203 points, he caught the eyes of football fans from around the country. In fact, he became the first All-America from any school in Colorado. But the fact that he decided not to immediately enter the NFL left many surprised. But, after sitting out one year, he joined the Spartans (now the Detroit Lions) and made an immediate impact. In fact, in his first year with Portsmouth, he was named the first-team all-pro at QB, led the Spartans in scoring with 60-points and led the Spartans to a fantastic 11-3 record. After just two years in the NFL, Clark was regarded as the best player in the league for the last decade! Nonetheless, after just two years of play, he decided to step away from the game, and go back to college and coach. He went back to Colorado and took over the program at the Colorado School of Mines. It didn’t go to well for Dutch as the Orediggers went 1-5. So back to the NFL Dutch went, only now he was off to Detroit where Portsmouth had moved and Clark picked up right where he left off. Dutch was again named first-team All-Pro at quarterback, was second in the league in points scored, third in rushing and fourth in passing – all-around great season for someone who had stepped away from the game. Dutch’s best season with the Lions came in 1935 when he led Detroit to a 7-3-2 record and a win over the New York Giants in the NFL Championship game, 26-7. A true superstar, on this episode of Sports’ Forgotten Heroes, I examine the career of Dutch Clark with Chris Willis who wrote the book, “Dutch Clark: The Life of an NFL Legend and the Birth of the Detroit Lions.” Chris has also worked for NFL Films as the head of the research department since 1996.
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