Tight End Dallas Clark gave an emotional good-bye to professional football as team owner Jim Irsay welcomed him back to the herd.
"Dallas is such a great, great football player that really elevated the horseshoe almost to another level when he came in," said Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay. "He was an incredible player, such a great man, such a playful person - a child at heart."
The Colts used their first round pick to draft Clark in 2003. He then spent 9 seasons with the club. During that time he racked up an impressive stat list, finishing second in franchise history in receptions and touchdown receptions by a tight end.
"Everyone has different experiences in the NFL. To get there is every kid's ultimate dream," said Clark. "For me to get with a team that was loaded with so many not just great athletes but people, it was a jackpot - a complete jackpot."
Clark left the Colts after the 2011 season and played the next year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last year he signed a one year contract with the Baltimore Ravens after TE Dennis Pitta sustained a hip injury during training camp. But his heart was always with the team that made him a professional football player and molded his career. Clark even explained to colts.com that when he went to the Ravens and couldn't have his signature 44 jersey number, he went with number 87 to pay homage to Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
The retirement ceremony included a video of some of Clark's greatest moments with the Colts and ended with a full screen shot that read, "Thanks Dallas."
"It's an honor I can't even explain," Clark told colts.com. "It's amazing just the love and support I have for the Colts and fans, but to see it come back toward me (is humbling)."
Clark isn't the only player to hold his former team in such high regard. Just a little over one year ago, center Jeff Saturday retired from play as a Colt after playing one year for the Green Bay Packers. Saturday and Clark are the only Colts players to ceremoniously re-sign and retire with the club in its 31 seasons in Indianapolis.