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When it comes to drama, Clark prefers CBS to CBA

by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer
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Give Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark credit. The guy is one of nearly 2,000 players locked out of work, yet he does what he can not to think about it, read about it or hear about it basically because he's confident a settlement will be reached and that there will be football this season.

So Clark adopts a "What? Me Worry?" attitude toward the NFL lockout, and more power to him.

Colts star tight end Dallas Clark would like to be an actor, or maybe a rock star. (Getty Images)  
Colts star tight end Dallas Clark would like to be an actor, or maybe a rock star. (Getty Images)  
But that doesn't mean he doesn't have things on his mind, because he does. He worries what he will say and do next week, and I'm not talking about the next interview or an appearance in front of some House investigative sub-committee.

I'm talking about Clark's acting debut. He'll be in Los Angeles on Monday to appear as an undercover detective in the CBS series, Criminal Minds. The episode is scheduled to air in April, which means you may have a better chance of seeing Clark on prime-time TV next month than the top draft picks.

Anyway, it's a chance for Clark to pick up extra money while he's kept out of work -- and, no, the two aren't related. His appearance was scheduled in advance of last week's lockout, with Clark pursuing something that fascinates him.

"I'm living the dream," he said. "I've always loved acting and wanted to be an actor. Either that or being on stage rocking out playing in front of thousands of fans."

The move isn't unnatural for Clark, who took two acting classes as an undergraduate at the University of Iowa. But he's never been on stage and never been on camera -- at least not as an actor -- and he never thought he would until meeting one of the show's writers, Rick Dunkle, prior to a game last season against Jacksonville.

Dunkle is a Colts' fan and a Clark fan, and after the two spoke he promised to try to work his favorite player into the series. The rest you can figure out, with Clark given a role as a San Diego cop.

"I've got two lines," he said, "and I can't wait to knock those lines out."

Clark rehearses in front of the mirror, but there's an easier way to ace the exam: Call your quarterback, Dallas. There is no pro athlete better on TV than Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning, the NFL's king of endorsements. Manning is everywhere. He did commercials with his brother and his dad. He did commercials with his teammates. He did commercials with Justin Timberlake. He even hosted Saturday Night Live and guest-voiced on The Simpsons.

"As much as I hate being part of his fan club," said Clark, one of Manning's favorite receivers, "he has done very well with everything that he's done on TV, whether it's his Saturday Night Live skit or his commercials. He really has a knack with his timing and delivery. It's pretty cool.

"But I'm not going to sell myself short. Obviously, I haven't had the exposure he has, but you have to start somewhere. This might be my debut, but he hasn't done anything serious. If he ever steps into drama he better watch out."

Clark started laughing. But his flirtation with acting is no joke. He has an interest, and he'd like to find out if he has a future. Look, he's not giving up his day job anytime soon. He knows that. But football only lasts so long, and it's never too soon to prepare for what's next.

"I'm going to enjoy the heck out of it," said Clark. "I look at it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I'm going to make the most of it. Hopefully, someone else sees it and says, 'Hey, maybe he can do this,' because it's definitely something I love. It could be awesome.

"But who knows? I might stink. I don't even know. A lot's going to happen in one day of shooting. So maybe I'll find out that someone will give me the courtesy tap on the back and say, 'It was nice meeting you and good luck with football. I hope that goes well for you because we probably won't be seeing you very much here.' I'm hoping that doesn't happen, but you never know."

Clark's appearance is another sign that he is recovering from an injured wrist that ended his 2010 season is proceeding well. He said everything is on schedule, that he continues to rehabilitate the wrist in Indianapolis and that he will not be encumbered this season when ... if ... the NFL returns to the field.

"I'm very blessed with how everything is healing," he said.

But as for that lockout ...

"As long as I don't watch TV or read anything on the internet I'm good," he said. "I try to remove myself as much as possible. I want to get it [a new CBA] done just like everyone else, but I'm not going to drive myself crazy by looking every day to see, 'OK, did they talk today? Did they have a good meeting?' I'm not going to waste my energy on that because at the end of the day it's going to get done.

"But all that in-between? I'm not going to give that much time and effort to it because the people making decisions are very smart people, and everyone involved is good at what they do. It will get done. So nothing's changed. As an athlete and a player, whenever they give us the green light we've got to hit the ground running and be ready to go ... whenever that is."

Clark has no idea when that could be and said that Colts' players haven't scheduled offseason workouts and that he hasn't heard from Manning about doing anything as a team or as groups away from the team facility. Not yet, anyway. But stay tuned.

"I can see definitely something like that happening," he said, "but we're not at that point. But that's what players do. We adapt to different climates, situations and injuries. So this is just another thing that is one of those cases.

"If we have to get together to meet we'll get together to meet. We'll make sure we get our work in and let everyone else in this decision-making do their thing. But we'll be getting our work in."

For Dallas Clark, that work starts next week.

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