I can’t think of another NFL pass catcher who doesn’t wear gloves. An ESPN story published in 2012 identified four other full-time glove haters, but only one (Minnesota’s Toby Gerhart) played offense, and recent pictures show he’s sheathed now.
After Clark hauled in an impressive one-handed 18-yard catch with his bare left hand Sunday against Green Bay, I decided now would be a good time to ask Clark why he doesn’t wear gloves.
“When I was a linebacker at Iowa, I wore gloves,” he said. “And they asked me to switch positions and I just kind of felt like a linebacker when I had the gloves on.
“It was kind of weird. So I just took them off and felt good with it and just continued onto the NFL.”
Yup, Clark was an outside linebacker his freshman year at the University of Iowa. He switched to tight end before his sophomore year.
Ever since then, he has NEVER worn gloves as a receiver.
“I’ve never used gloves to catch, so I don’t really know the difference,” he said. “I’ve always liked to feel the ball.”
Clark tapes up the knuckles and joints on both of his hands not for traction, but to “help the ligaments out so they don’t get any more dislocated.”
Considering he has caught 558 passes over his 11-year career, including 20 for 256 yards this season with the Ravens, his wardrobe choice is working. Clark said neither coaches nor teammates have suggested wearing gloves over the years.
“It’s never been an issue where I needed some help,” he said. “I’m sure people have said it behind my back. But to my face, nobody has come up and said, ‘Try some gloves.’”
Clark has made the one-handed catch somewhat of a trademark. He had a similar catch to the one Sunday against Green Bay when he was playing in M&T Bank Stadium in 2011 as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Clark remembered it was in the same end zone too.
“I was a lot more open that time,” he said with a laugh.
“Sometimes one hand is all you can get on it. You have a little less room for error. A lot of it has to do with the pass, and Joe [Flacco] threw a great, friendly ball where you could have a chance to catch it with one hand.”
So how is he able to hold on with those bare hands?
“Country strength,” Clark simply said.
Hey, whatever works.