Back in 2013 at the time of his retirement, Falcons owner Arthur Blank told Falcons center Todd McClure he’d one day be in the Falcons Ring of Honor.
As of 2018, it hasn’t happened yet.
At the time, Blank sounded empathetic about McClure’s placement in the team’s story, per ESPN.
“You deserve to be in that Ring of Honor, and we will get you there as soon as we can,” Blank said while pointing out another longtime center, Jeff Van Note, also earned the team’s highest honor for a former player.
Indeed, Van Note went into Atlanta’s Ring of Honor in 2006, well after the conclusion of his career, but the team didn’t start inaugurating players until 2004. The most recent player inducted into the Ring of Honor is franchise legend, RB Warrick Dunn, who got his due last season.
Admittedly, the Falcons haven’t had too many retired players worthy of Ring of Honor contention come across post-2000, with WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez likely bound for the Ring at some point in the future. Tony G wrapped up his playing career in 2013, while White was done in 2015, so their ceremonies will perhaps come in the years ahead.
QB Michael Vick should be in the Ring, but there’s no confirmation the team will ever publicly recognize him in this firm a way after his public exit. Though, they seemed to have at least patched things up with just acknowledging his career as a Falcon and letting him publicly retire with good favor with the organization. He and Blank stayed close despite all of what went down at the close of his Falcons career.
You have to think former head coach Mike Smith will one day, as well as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.
But, back to McClure.
He was the stalwart guardian of the team’s offensive line for a decade plus. After being drafted as a seventh rounder in 1999 out of LSU, he gave the team some of its best center play it’s had, besides that of Van Note and incumbent center Alex Mack. He’s one of the franchise’s best overall talents it’s had, and the team is right to guarantee his spot in its hallowed Ring.
So, what’s the hold up for his big day?
Obviously, time is a factor, as teams like to let a moment or two pass before an honor such as this. McClure retired in 2012, so it’ll be six years this fall. Remember that Colts center Jeff Saturday, who left the league at the same time McClure did, was inducted into Indianapolis’ Ring of Honor in 2015, so time really isn’t a big hold here.
They also could’ve wanted to wait and get the ceremony scheduled for when Mercedes-Benz Stadium was open, and had a year under its belt. That would mean 2018 is the perfect time to get something like that underway, though.
So, time really isn’t a problem, and now, nor is a new stadium. Does this mean McClure’s time is ready for him to get his big Sunday in front of the home crowd?
For all accounts purposes, it should be, and to be fair, could already be in the works behind the scenes. McClure is one of the most important players that’s ever suited up in a Falcons uniform, and is the embodiment of why we all stick around with a team that blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. You don’t leave McClure, and you don’t leave the Falcons, ever. Despite it all, he, and they, are forever worth the love.
Blank is a man of his word (and a wonderful human being, and probably the best owner in the league), so we have no doubt this will happen one of these days. But, 2018 would be as good a time as ever, and as soon as they can might as well be as soon as this fall.
It’s high time Atlanta gets its first Ring of Honor celebration underway in a good while for a franchise legend. McClure’s time needs to be either this season or the next.
But, why wait any longer? Let’s party with the Mud Duck now!