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Browns Lure Clark Away From 49ers

The team of Dwight Clark and Carmen Policy was reunited in Cleveland Monday.

Standing with policy and expansion Cleveland Browns owner Al Lerner before a backdrop of orange helmets, Clark was introduced as the Browns vice president and director of football operations.

Clark is leaving the same job with the San Francisco 49ers to rejoin Policy, the Browns president who also filled the same role for San Francisco. Policy gave Clark his first front-office job after he retired from playing in 1987.

"Dwight Clark is among the finest executives in the NFL toda

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  • y," Policy said. "I had the pleasure of working with him during my time as president of the 49ers and enjoyed my role as a mentor and friend."

    Clark will oversee all aspects of pro and college personnel selection, including contract negotiations and salary cap issues. The Browns can sign their first players starting Dec. 17. They begin play next season.

    "While I feel some sadness about ending an era of my life that lasted almost 20 years, I am unbelievably excited about the unique opportunity that awaits me and my family in Cleveland," Clark said.

    Clark is well known for making "The Catch" that beat Dallas in the NFC championship game following the 1981 season and propelled San Francisco to the first of five Super Bowls.

    Dwight Clark
    Dwight Clark leaves the 49ers for a position with the expansion Browns. (AP)

    A friend of exiled 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo but also closely aligned with Policy, Clark's departure from San Francisco had been rumored for weeks.

    It was held up by the league last month after 49ers interim team president Larry Thrailkill, in a meeting with NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, raised concerns that the Browns violated tampering rules by talking to Clark during the season about a job.

    Clark and policy denied the tampering allegation, but Tagliabue ruled Clark was obligated to finish out the season with the 49ers even though he was working without a contract.

    Thrailkill offered Clark a contract two weeks ago but it didn't include the promotion he wanted -- the 49ers team presidency -- and he rejected it. Over the weekend, the Browns and 49ers agreed to allow Clark to leave, a deal that also was approved by the NFL.

    Under the plan, the Browns have agreed they won't hire any more current employees of the 49ers -- excluding players -- through the 1999 season.

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