49ers great Dwight Clark announces he has ALS

The entire football world shook Sunday evening as 49ers great Dwight Clark revealed he was suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS. The disease deteriorates nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

The recipient of “The Catch,” which sparked a dynasty, wrote about his fight ahead in a poignant letter,

“While I’m still trying to wrap my head around the challenge I will face with this disease over the coming years, the only thing I know is that I’m going to fight like hell and live every day to the fullest.”

Clark, 60, says ALS has stripped the strength in his left hand to the point that he can no longer button a shirt or open a sugar packet.

In his letter, Clark addresses the root of his diagnosis.

“I’ve been asked if playing football caused this. I don’t know for sure. But I certainly suspect it did. And I encourage the NFLPA and the NFL to continue working together in their efforts to make the game of football safer, especially as it relates to head trauma.”

According to The ALS Association, there are 6,000 new cases of ALS each year and the life expectancy of someone diagnosed with ALS averages just 2-5 years. Doctors have told Clark that the disease is progressing slower in his case than most others.

Former Saints safety Steve Gleason revealed his ALS diagnosis in 2011 at age 34. He celebrated his 40th birthday yesterday.

Our thoughts and best wishes are with Clark and his family.

Click here to donate the ALS Association.