Bruce Clark: The Best Saints Player Nobody Ever Talks About
Over the summer, I've seen three different lists, counting down the top 50 Saints players of all-time, and not one of them listed Bruce Clark.
First, I know, that lists are very subjective, that they're all in good fun, and that it is hard to compare different eras.
I also understand that the franchise has had a lot of success since 2006, and that you can put together a pretty good top 50 list of Saints players just from the Sean Payton era.
That being said, this leads credence to what I've been saying for years; that Clark is arguably the most underrated player in Saints history.
Clark, who played for the Saints from 1982-1988, was a defensive tackle, who typically don't pile up the sexy statistics. Defensive tackles are supposed to occupy blockers, and allow the linebackers to come up and make the tackles, while the defensive ends recorded most of the sacks.
Clark did that, allowing linebackers such as Rickey Jackson and Whitney Paul, and other defensive linemen, such as Frank Warren and Jim Wilks, to get most of the press.
Make no mistake however, Clark was a big part of the Saints' success, and one of the reasons why those other players were able to rack up the glory stats.
A native of New Castle, Pennsylvania, Clark played college football for Penn St., where he won the Lombardi Award, in recognition of the top defensive lineman in college football in 1978, becoming the first junior ever to win that award, while being tabbed a first-team All-American in 1979.
The Green Bay Packers selected Clark with the fourth pick in the 1980 NFL Draft, behind Billy Simms (Detroit Lions), Johnny “Lam” Jones (New York Jets), and Anthony Munoz (Cincinnati Bengals), but Clark refused to play for them, in part because of his reluctance to play nose tackle, and instead signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
In 1982, the Saints traded their first-round pick of the 1983 NFL Draft to the Packers in exchange for the rights to Clark, who they signed to a contract.
In seven seasons in New Orleans, Clark played in 102 games, starting 88, mostly at defensive end.
A 1984 NFL Pro Bowler when he accumulated a career-high 10.5 sacks, Clark totaled 39.5 sacks during his tenure with the Saints, with at least 4.5 every season from 1982-1987.
The 6-foot-3, 273-pound Clark left the Saints following the 1988 season, and spent one season with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1989, his last year in the NFL.
Clark had his remodeling business in New Orleans destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2006.
Now 60-years old, Clark, who was an outstanding football player, is largely forgotten by many Saints fans.
I don't know where exactly to rank Clark among the all-time best Saints players, but I do know he deserves to be mentioned, and I do know he's one of the best players in franchise history that few even mention.