INDIANAPOLIS — Thanks to an extremely successful 11-year NFL career, Dallas Clark set himself up for the possibility of kicking back and really enjoying his retirement.
No one would blame the former great Indianapolis Colts tight end if he spent the rest of his days in a lavish mansion in the suburbs and took full advantage of big-city living.
But that couldn't be further from what actually ended up happening.
Clark has re-established roots in his hometown of Livermore, Iowa, where his family maintains a farm. Like an actual farm. We're talking chickens, cows, crops — the whole nine yards.
Clark, who played nine seasons for the Colts from 2003 through 2011, is the subject of Colts Productions' newest series, "Colts Forever," which gives fans a unique look into the post-retirement life of team greats.
You can check out the entire episode below, followed by some highlights:
» Clark said he considered spending his retirement in Indianapolis, because "it's just an unbelievable city to raise a family and to be able to have the city life. It was tough to leave Indy, that's for sure."
» So what's a typical day like for the Clark family? It consists of chores — and lots of them. Fixing fences, pulling weeds, feeding livestock and pets, maintaining equipment and whatever other random things need done at all hours of the day certainly is a change from the regimented NFL life he had grown accustomed to. "That's what has been the challenge," Clark said, "is going from a lifestyle in the NFL where every minute was defined, to now — 'Well that fence is doing a good job, but if a cow just nudges on that thing it's just gonna buckle. They're gonna get through, and then guess what I'm gonna be doing that day? I'm gonna go fix that fence."
» Clark said he grew up in a farming town in Iowa, but he had never actually done any farming until now. So he jumped right in with his family. "I have no idea what I'm doing, and so I am not afraid to ask good friends of our — family friends that are true farmers — 'How much food should a cow get?' And they kind of (have) a little pause on the phone, like, just thinking I should know that stuff. But — I don't."
» Clark said it was important to him to raise his kids knowing the value of hard work and being inquisitive about the world around them. "What I love about doing this, learning about farming, is that I love, and I'm hoping that the kids see that I'm, asking questions. And I love telling them, like, 'Well, son, I don't know.'"
» Shifting focus to football a little bit, Clark talked about the fact that just one school, Iowa, offered him an opportunity, even as a walk-on, coming out of high school. "Walking on at Iowa, that's kind of where I felt like one believed in me. I mean, literally, one." Clark got emotional as he discussed his favorite football memory: "Earning that scholarship — hands down," he said. "'Cause, you know, just so many people helped me."
» Clark's retirement has led to a new life in farming, but he continues the tremendous work of The Dallas Clark Foundation, which was established 12 years ago with a simple golf outing aimed at giving back to the community through the funding of college scholarships. The organization has grown tremendously over the years to help provide funds for local town improvements as well as teaching area youth about football and physical fitness, but it's those scholarships that remain at the forefront of what Clark wants to achieve. "I remember being a hard worker in the classroom — not the smartest; definitely not — but I remember working my tail off for those 'Bs,' and maybe an 'A,' but then sitting at awards banquets and just seeing the top five kids get all the money and all the scholarships. And, hey, they earned it," Clark said. "Our application is set in a way where we can really kind of try to get to know more about the kids, like, 'What would this scholarship impact them financially? What's a little bit about their background? What's their dreams?' Always trying to find those kids that, 'Gosh, these are hard-working kids that they're gonna make a difference."
» Over the last 12 years, the Dallas Clark Foundation has given out more than $300,000 worth of scholarships to local students. "That's a lot of money," Clark said. "It kind of stopped me in my tracks a little bit, 'cause it was one of those things that's one year at a time. 'What difference can we make this year?' And then at some point you look back and go, 'Wow. I didn't realize we've been making that kind of impact.' And so it kind of motivates you to (say), 'Hey — we can do better. Like, we can do better.' It's not a time to go, 'Hey, let's just hit cruise control.' We've gotta keep going.
» What's the "ultimate goal" of Clark's foundation? "It would be phenomenal to give a full-ride scholarship. That is the ultimate goal. I don't know how we're gonna get there — I know we are."