In a statement released Friday, the former San Francisco 49ers tight end's family said he had been “suffering from CTE symptoms”

By Ally Mauch
July 10, 2021 11:28 AM
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49ers Greg Clark celebrates a first quarter touchdown.
Credit: MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty

Retired San Francisco 49ers player Greg Clark has died unexpectedly at the age of 49. 

No further details have been released about the former NFL star's cause of death, though his family said in a statement Friday that he had been "suffering from CTE symptoms." CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a rare and progressive degenerative brain condition likely caused by repeated head traumas, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"It is with great sadness we announce the unexpected passing of Greg Clark, 49, cherished husband, father, son, brother, and friend to so many," the family statement said, per NBC Sports reporter Matt Maiocco. 

It continued, "Greg was a dedicated family man who was successful at everything he did, from his academic and athletic achievements as a Stanford scholar athlete to his role as tight end for the San Francisco 49ers, to the creation of a successful real estate platform throughout the bay area." 

"Most importantly, he was a cherished and dedicated father of three sons, and a loving husband to his wife of 23 years. His recent suffering from CTE symptoms cannot extinguish the breadth of his impact on us and others and we are forever grateful for the time we have had with him. It is our hope that through further research we can gain more knowledge surrounding CTE," the statement concluded. 

After playing football at Stanford, Clark was selected by the 49ers in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft. The tight end played four NFL seasons with the San Francisco team before his career was cut short due to injuries. 

"Our organization is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Greg Clark," the team said in a statement Friday, according to Maiocco. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

In an interview with Mercury News, former 49ers quarterback Steve Young called his old teammate "a phenomenal human being." 

"He was a phenomenal human being, with a burgeoning family, and I just feel terrible about the suffering he must have felt," Young said. 

"Greg was a great player. He was tough. A great teammate and a great 49er," he added. "And he's gone way too early. It's just devastating." 

NFL star Todd Husak, who also played at Stanford, added on Twitter, "So sad to lose a former teammate and a great man in Greg Clark. To Anyone who needs help, it's out there. Please reach out to loved ones and let them know you care."