Clark led Lions to 1982, '83 playoffs

DETROIT -- Monte Clark, who coached the Detroit Lions for seven years and led them to the playoffs in 1982 and 1983, has died. He was 72.

He died Wednesday night at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, the team said Thursday. He had a bone marrow malignancy associated with lung and liver disease.

Clark was the offensive line coach for the Miami Dolphins team that went 17-0 in 1972. He became the Lions coach in 1978.

"Monte will always be remembered as a consummate football man," Lions president Tom Lewand said. "He knew football inside and out, and had a passion for it. He played the game at a high level and had success wherever he coached."

Under Clark, the Lions went 43-63-1 and made back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time since their three straight playoff runs from 1952 to 1954. The Lions lost both games.

Seven players were named to 14 Pro Bowls during Clark's stay in Detroit, including lineman Al "Bubba" Baker, running back Billy Sims and kicker Eddie Murray.

Clark was born in Kingsburg, Calif., and starred as an offensive lineman at Southern California before San Francisco drafted him in 1959. He spent three seasons with the 49ers and one with the Dallas Cowboys before playing for the Cleveland Browns from 1963 to 1969.

Clark served as an assistant in Miami from 1970 to 1975 before becoming head coach in San Francisco in 1976, leading the 49ers to an 8-6 record.

Don Shula, whose 26 years as coach in Miami included the perfect 1972 season, called Clark an "outstanding coach."

"Monte was an outstanding teacher and knew how to present information to his players in a way that made it interesting and exciting for them," he said in a statement released by the Dolphins.

Clark also was on Shula's staff when Miami again won the Super Bowl in 1973. After his coaching stints in San Francisco and Detroit, Clark returned to Miami as director of pro personnel in 1990.

Clark served as offensive line coach at Stanford in 1993-94 and was Miami's offensive line coach in 1995, Shula's final season as coach of the Dolphins. He spent the 1998 season as offensive line coach at Cal-Berkeley and joined the Lions that year for the first of 11 seasons as a consultant.

After his coaching career, Clark was a football broadcaster in Detroit and color analyst for the University of Michigan. He was a sideline reporter for the Michigan State radio network in 1992.

Survivors include Clark's wife of 52 years, Charlotte, three sons and eight grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.