11:27 a.m. March 13
One of the most storied careers in Falcons’ lore has come to an end.
Center Todd McClure, who labored in the trenches of the NFL for 13 seasons and 197 games, plans to file his retirement papers with the league office.
“It’s going to be different not putting on cleats, the shoulders pads and going out there on the field, but it’s something that I’m looking forward to,” McClure told The Atlanta Journal-
Constitution on Wednesday. “I’ve got four kids and my wife, it’s time to move on to the next chapter.”
He will announce his retirement at a press conference after the league owner’s meeting. Falcons owner Arthur Blank wanted to make sure that McClure and his family could attend his official send-off.
“That made me feel really good,” McClure said.
McClure was drafted in seventh round (237th overall) of the 1999 draft. He missed his rookie season with a knee injury, but in 2000 he cracked the starting lineup.
McClure, an Alex Gibbs disciple, won battle after battle to retain his job and stayed as the center through four coaching administrations as he snapped for head coaches Dan Reeves, Jim Mora, Bobby Petrino and Mike Smith.
McClure. 36, signed a modest one-year contract to continue playing last season. He started 17 of 18 games and helped the Falcons reach the NFC championship for the second time during his tenure.
In 2010, McClure made his 129th consecutive start, breaking a club record held by linebacker Keith Brooking, who made 128 straight starts for Atlanta before moving on to Dallas after the 2008 season.
Falcons Ring of Honor center Jeff Van Note played 18 seasons and amassed 225 starts, but not consecutively. He played from 1969 to 1986, beyond his 40th birthday