My Friend’s Dad Is a Dallas Cowboy Who Shares a Super Bowl Record That Can NEVER Be Broken
Growing up in Dallas near the old Cowboys’ practice field, there were many former Dallas Cowboys that lived in our Lake Highlands neighborhood. I went to high school and to Sunday School with my friend, Kyle, whose dad, Mike Clark, was a kicker for the Cowboys. Mike Clark shares a Super Bowl record which can NEVER be broken.
Mike Clark scored the first points of Super Bowl VI with a 9-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 3-0 lead over the Dolphins. When he did, Clark tied Baltimore Colts kicker Joe Turner (Super Bowl III) in the NFL Record Book: Shortest Field Goal in a Super Bowl – 9 yards.
It’s a record that can never be broken. Why? Because since 1974, when the NFL moved the goal posts to the back of the end zone, it’s impossible for any field goal or extra point to travel less than 10 yards.
Football has changed in many ways throughout its history, including the placement of goal posts.
When football began in the 1800s, the goal posts were located on the goal line. As professional football began to take root, they followed college rules.
In 1927, the NCAA changed its rules and moved their goal posts to the backline behind each end zone. The NFL, following college rules, moved their goal posts, too. But in 1933, the NFL decided to revert to their old ways and moved goal posts to their original spot on the goal line.
NFL goal posts stayed on the goal line until 1974 when they were finally moved to the back of the end zone.
Why did the NFL move the goal posts to the back line? Mainly for player safety. When the posts were located along the goal line, players could accidentally run into the goal posts and suffer an injury. Also, moving the goal posts to the back of the end zone discouraged teams from attempting long field goals because the kicks had to travel an additional 10 yards.
On January 16, 1972 when Mike Clark lined up for his first field goal attempt in Super Bowl VI, the ball was spotted at the 9-yard line. Because the goal posts were at the goal line, it was only a 9-yard attempt. It was the same for Jim Turner of the Colts three years earlier in Super Bowl III.
Anytime since 1974, when an NFL kicker lines up for a field goal and the ball is spotted at the 9-yard line, it’s a 19-yard attempt (9 yards, plus the 10 yards from the goal line to the goal posts at the back of the end zone).
As for Clark, he retired from the NFL just before the goal posts were moved in 1974.
Clark, a long-time resident of Dallas before his death in 2002 at age 61, was originally from Longview, Texas. He was a star player at Texas A&M who was converted from tight end to kicker. He began his NFL career in 1963 with the Philadelphia Eagles as a kickoff specialist before the team sold his rights to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Clark kicked four seasons for the Steelers (1964-67) including his Pro Bowl season of 1966.
Clark planned to retire after the 1967 season, but the Cowboys hoped he would play pro football in his home state of Texas. So, the Cowboys traded center Mike Connelly to Pittsburgh in exchange for the right to sign Clark.
In 1968, Clark became the first Texas Aggie to play for the Dallas Cowboys. He topped 100 points in his first season in Dallas. In 1969, he set a new Cowboys’ record for most field goals (20). In 1970, one of his postseason highlights was scoring 3 of the Cowboys’ 5 points in their 5-0 playoff win over the Lions.
The following season, the one in which the Cowboys would eventually win their first Super Bowl, Clark lost his starting job to Toni Frisch. But when Frisch suffered a hamstring injury early in the season, Clark was back to his duties as the Cowboys’ kicker. Clark responded by continuing his franchise record of consecutive extra points which, over the course of the season, reached 99.
Clark was released by Dallas at the start of the 1972 season and claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Bills. An injury, however, sidelined him for the 1972 regular season. In 1973, he was waived by Buffalo and claimed by the Patriots who released him just prior to the regular season. That led to his re-signing with the Cowboys. He appeared in 4 games for the Cowboys in 1973 before retiring.
Clark’s 10-year NFL career included a Super Bowl championship, a Pro Bowl appearance, and a shared Super Bowl record which can never be broken.
After his playing days, Mike worked for Lockheed Martin for many years. He passed away in 2002 at age 61. More important than his NFL and career accomplishments is the legacy he left for friends and family. He is remembered fondly by all of us, and he was a terrific father. His son, Kyle, also passed away at an early age. Kyle, like Mike, was a wonderful husband to my high school classmate/friend, Ley, and a terrific dad to their kids.
I’d like to think that Mike & Kyle will be smiling down from above when this year’s Super Bowl kicks off. And I hope that, as they watch the game together, that Kyle is bragging to everyone in heaven that his dad holds an unbreakable Super Sunday record!