Former Lions Head Coach Monte Clark dead at 72

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sad news for the Lions family.

Former Head Coach Monte Clark has died. He was 72.

He died Wednesday night at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, the team said Thursday. He had a bone marrow malignancy associated with lung and liver disease.

Clark was the offensive line coach for the Miami Dolphins team that went 17-0 in 1972. He became the Lions' coach in 1978.

"Monte will always be remembered as a consummate football man," Lions president Tom Lewand said. "He knew football inside and out, and had a passion for it. He played the game at a high level and had success wherever he coached."

Under Clark, the Lions went 43-63-1 and made back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time since their three straight playoff runs from 1952-54. The Lions lost both games.

I'll always remember Monte Clark praying on the sidelines as Eddie Murray lined up to kick a very makeable field goal that would have sent the Lions into the 1984 NFC Championship game. Murray's 43-yarder sailed wide right with 5 seconds to go, the Lions lost 24-23, the 49ers went on to a multiple Lombardi Trophy-winning dynasty under Bill Walsh, and the Lions went, uh, in a different direction.

But Monte Clark was a really solid football coach in the years back when the Lions were competitive. RIP.

Lions fans are remembering Clark in The Den.