Chiefs' Frank Clark critical of 49ers Dee Ford over 'dumb penalty' dating back to last season

ByAdam Teicher ESPN logo
Tuesday, January 28, 2020

AVENTURA, Fla. --Frank Clark took over this season as theKansas City Chiefs' top edge pass-rusher and said Tuesday that he's "not really too fond'' of the player he replaced in that role, Dee Ford.

"I don't know nothing about him,'' Clark said Tuesday as the Chiefs prepare to face Ford and the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. "I couldn't name a stat. I don't know the school he went to.

"I just know he had lined up offside and anybody who lined up offside at a time like that I feel like that's a dumb penalty at the end of the day. I'm sure he feels the same way. Personally I've lined up offside before but not in that type of (situation) ... In any (situation) that's just something that shouldn't happen.''

Clark wasn't with the Chiefs then, but Ford's offside penalty cost the Chiefs a berth in last season's Super Bowl. Ford lined up offside on a late-fourth-quarter play that wound up with Kansas City intercepting a Tom Brady pass that would have secured a victory over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

Instead, the Patriots went on to score a touchdown and eventually win in overtime.

In the offseason, the Chiefs traded Ford to the 49ers and acquired Clark from the Seattle Seahawks.

On Tuesday, Ford called playing his former team in the Super Bowl less than a year after it traded him "unbelievable" and "surreal." He also acknowledged that it's just a little something extra for him to use going into the game, even though he didn't and still doesn't harbor any ill will toward the Chiefs.

"That's not a factor," Ford said. "I don't really think that's a real thing. It's a business. At the end of the day, you move forward as an organization and you move forward as a player. You see a lot of players stay with certain teams for their whole career but for the most part it doesn't always work out like that. So, that doesn't really mean 'Oh, they don't like you or nothing like that.' It's a business at the end of the day, and I'm a businessman at the end of the day. So, that was just part of the decision-making that came with the game. That was nothing personal."

The Chiefs haven't shown much outward animosity toward Ford, but occasionally their feelings show through. Coach Andy Reid recently said the Chiefs lost last year's AFC title game by 4 inches, or about how far Ford was lined up offside.

At Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday, Ford said he agreed it was a dumb penalty.

"He's right," Ford said. "It's inexcusable. But don't we all do it?"

Ford said Reid was supportive during the time he was looking for a team for Ford. After the deal with San Francisco was complete and Ford had signed a five-year, $87.5 million deal with the Niners, he received congratulatory texts from Reid and many of his former teammates.

Kansas City defensive linemanChris Jonesremains close with Ford, saying Tuesday that they still talk "all the time" and crediting Ford with teaching him a lot on and off the field.

In the end, Ford believes it was the rare NFL deal that clearly worked out for both sides.

"As soon as we realized that we could listen to trade offers, we just looked around at teams we knew were going after edge rushers... And as soon as I heard San Francisco, I'm like 'That's definitely a place that I could go,'" Ford said. "I would love to play in the Bay ... They had a really good chance of getting (Nick) Bosaat the time with having one of the top picks, and at the end of the day, I was, like, this is a no-brainer."

Clark, who had eight sacks in the regular season and four in the playoffs, went on to call himself the best defensive end in the league.

"Because of everything I can do,'' he said. "Watch me healthy against any other defensive end. I mean you can do all the talking, you can do all the praising you want about these guys who have been at the top of the league for the last couple years. But if you watch football and you understand football, then you know Frank Clark (and) you understand (who) the best of the league is at doing this.''

ESPN's Nick Wagoner contributed to this report.

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