Pivotal pick for 'pa

In the midst of a spirited post-game celebration, Brian Clark stood alone in front of his corner locker, quietly getting dressed.

With head bowed towards his stall, he could see the ball he snared that killed any chance of a Roughriders resurgence yesterday. It's the same ball he'll tuck under his arm this morning before boarding a plane bound for Illinois.

With a heavy heart and a lifetime of memories swirling in his head, he'll return to the city of Springfield where he and his family spent summer vacations with his grandfather, Jack.

However, when he's greeted by a handful of family members at the airport tonight, Jack won't be there.

In his place will be plenty of tears, like the ones Clark fought back yesterday when talking about a man who obviously meant a lot to him.

Jack Clark passed away Friday following two months of hospitalization for various ailments.

Yesterday, in one of those stirring sporting moments when the emotion of sport and life collide, Clark was given the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to his grandfather.

And, as he's done so often in his career, he grabbed it.

Midway through the first quarter, with the Stamps up 14-1 and the Roughriders threatening to stop the momentum, Clark stuffed Corey Grant on the Stamps nine-yard line. The next play he dropped deep in the endzone and leapt high in the air to pick off a Kerry Joseph toss. He then took a knee.

With a sold out crowd on its feet, Clark stood and pointed skyward for his grandfather.

"It was pretty special," said Clark, forcing a grin at a tough time in his life.

"I'm going to miss him."

A huge play for the Stamps, an even bigger play for Clark. One play later, Nik Lewis scampered 85 yards to put the Stamps up 21-1 to kick-start the club's most dominating performance in years.

Fondly recalling the time his grandfather drove up to Toronto to see him play, Clark recalled making an interception that day and giving the ball to Jack.

"I'm not sure what to do with the ball now -- I might just give it to my grandmother," said Clark. "He always lived far away, but we were really close. Growing up in New Jersey, it was always the summer vacation. My dad made me, my two brothers and mom climb into the car for an 18-hour drive, and if you had to go to the bathroom, too bad, because it was going to be done in 18 hours straight."

His grandfather was there when he played against Illinois State in college and was there in spirit every other time he hit the field.

"I sent all the DVDs of the games to him every week, and he'd watch them," said Clark.

"I just talked to him last week and told him I'd send some more ... it's those little things you think about that make you sad."

In a game in which the Stamps offence racked up almost 600 yards, it was a play by a linebacker in mourning that had coach Tom Higgins raining praise when addressing Clark and the team afterwards.

"That just shows his character -- most of us didn't even know he was going through that before the game," said Randy Chevrier. "I think it was special for him to do what he did, especially considering what he was going through. That's a leader right there."

Two weeks ago, Clark and wife Shannon celebrated the birth of their second child, Brinley.

And while his grandfather's funeral is Tuesday, yesterday he got to say goodbye in his own special way.

Best regards to Clark and his family.

RedWhite'05: an exceptional tribute, about a talented, yet humble athelete. He is one of a kind. When I saw him point to the "heavens" after the interception, I said, he has just lost someone very close to him...how fitting, and I wonder who it was." Now I know..thank you.

Well I am glad they kept Clark around early in the season the coaching staff realizes that there are some guys you can not remove from the mix and I believe Clark is one of them. The guy is nothing but class. This week will be tough for him and his team mates will rally around him.