49ers greats ready to do battle in Legends of Candlestick flag football game 

click to enlarge Joe Montana
  • Eric Risberg/AP
  • San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, right, and retired running back Roger Craig, left, laugh during a photo shoot at Candlestick Park before a news conference about their upcoming flag football game Wednesday in San Francisco.
While they may be at varying degrees of athletic fitness, 49ers greats Roger Craig and Dwight Clark came to the same conclusion regarding the Legends of Candlestick event, a flag football contest played by array of retired gridiron giants in what is being billed as the last event at the venerable stadium.

“This is all about the fans,” said Craig, who won three Super Bowls with the 49ers in the 1980s. “They were always there for us, even when it was wet, cold and windy. This is an opportunity for us to give back.”

The flag football game will take place July 12 at Candlestick Park, following a grudge match between the San Francisco police and fire departments.

Gates open for the event at 3:30 p.m., and those who stick around for the premier event will be treated to a loaded roster on both sides. The Legends of Candlestick team features Craig, Clark, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Steve Young and 27 other former Niners. They’ll square off against the All-Stars, led by Dan Marino, Rod Woodson, Eric Allen and Drew Bledsoe.

Craig, who still runs 45 to 50 miles a week, said he’ll be doing plenty of moving around during the game, although he conceded that he’ll probably limit the “shaking and baking,” a bit.

Clark, the former 49ers tight end made legendary for “The Catch,” has taken a bit more laissez-faire approach to working out. “I think we might need to look at some different rules for the over-50 crowd,” joked Clark. “I plan on running a few out patterns before I head to the sidelines for the rest of the game.”

The flag football contest is based on a similar game in 2002 hosted by John Elway to commemorate the closing of Mile High Stadium in Denver. Led by the organizing efforts of Montana and Marty Garafalo of Gameday Entertainment, the two teams competing at Candlestick will raise money for various charities through proceeds from game tickets, which run from $30 to $50.

Fans willing to pony up a little extra cash will be able to take part in various interactive events with the players, including a game of catch with Montana and an on-field private practice with the Legends of Candlestick payers. Those activities are organized by IfOnly.com, an experiential marketplace website.

Craig and Clark expressed excitement about the chance to hang out with the fans, while catching up with their former teammates and opponents. They stressed that the game was all about having a good time, although they acknowledged that some players will be taking the contest more seriously than others.

“Oh, Jerry Rice will definitely be gunning for the MVP award,” said Craig. “This guy is preparing for this game the same way he did for the Super Bowl. He’s gonna be ready for this one.”

For more information, visit www.legendsofcandlestick.com.

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Will Reisman

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