When you're an offensive lineman in the NFL, standing out to the average fan is awfully difficult. You have three ways to distinguish yourself from your peers.
You can be so great that it can't be ignored
You can be so terrible that it can't be ignored
You can start a great many games
Todd McClure started a great many games. He was the classic underdog story, the seventh rounder who was no lock to make the team, much less start for them. He became a starter in 2001 and didn't miss a game until 2011. He was an iron man at center, a position you only notice when something goes wrong. And yet he retires as one of the most beloved Falcons of his generation.
A lot of that had to do with McClure's approach to the game. It goes without saying that he was an exceptionally hard worker, but he was also a quiet leader and someone who made very few mistakes. He was a country perfectionist, the Mud Duck who rarely actually got dirty.
We've all been saying since early in the 2012 season that it was probably time for McClure to hang it up, something he recognized. It's fair to say that 2013 was arguably his worst season, and even his worst season was an average one. With Peter Konz waiting in the wings to take his job, McClure decided to walk away to spend time with the people and things he loves. It's a low-key exit from a low-key man.
If we're discussing where he stands in team history, it's a short discussion. He's the second-best center in team history, after the legendary Jeff Van Note. He's a top-five offensive lineman and a mortal lock for the team's Ring of Honor. Nobody did the day-in, day-out work with less fuss than McClure, and few in the proud history of the Atlanta Falcons have consistently played so well for so long.
Because of who he is and the position he played, there won't be enough fanfare for McClure's exit. We'll do our part. Farewell and thank you for a fantastic career, Todd McClure.
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