Nearly 10 years ago, the Atlanta Falcons made a promise to one of their best players of the era.
Todd McClure, the former Atlanta Falcons center who played for the organization for more than a decade, is not a member of the Falcons Ring of Honor, at least not yet. It’s high time that’s changed.
In 2018, we reminded you it had been five years after the promise team owner Arthur Blank made to McClure to immortalize him in this fashion. Four years later, we’re pushing a decade. For a team who is desperate for positive press these days, finally making good on the promise you made to McClure all those years ago would at least be a start.
Let’s go back to where it all started. During his retirement press conference in early 2013 (after the team’s stellar 2012 campaign), the “Mud Duck,” as he was affectionately known, got quite a statement from Blank — a nod to one day be enshrined among the greatest Falcons to ever play. Here’s the quote exactly, 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.
Drafted in 1999, McClure worked from being a seventh-round pick to becoming one of the stalwart members of a Falcons team that went through a turbulent 00s (the highs of the Michael Vick years, the lows of the end of Vick’s tenure/the Bobby Petrino catastrophe). He became a bedrock for the rise of Matt Ryan that put the team back in respectable standings, anchored a very solid offensive line that has long been criticized since his departure and stayed with the organization through his entire career.
The organization quite literally made the promise to him to honor him among its best players. It has still — after all this time — not happened yet. What on Earth is the holdup?
Roddy White, who retired after the 2016 season, made it within a few years of him hanging up his pads in 2019, while running back Warrick Dunn is the only other Falcon to have that honor bestowed on him in the last few years.
Should McClure be next? While you can and should make a convincing case for Bob Whitfield, Terance Mathis, Matt Bryant, and others who had legendary moments and long careers with the team, McClure’s the one the team effectively pledged to add, and is a plenty deserving choice. That’s a long-winded way of saying yes.
For Blank, who has watched his team go through... shall we say...an interesting few weeks, the opportunity to celebrate a franchise great feels like an easy win. The team needs at least something to get fans into the stadium this fall — at the very least a Sunday dedicated to the Mud Duck would create something to look forward to in a season where the team isn’t a lock to be anywhere close to great.
The Falcons aren’t a team with a golden history, but there have been some truly great players in their history who shouldn’t forgotten. Blank was wise enough to recognize this when the center retired and promised him immortality in the team’s hallowed Ring of Honor.
Honoring McClure 10 years after that 2012 season — his last and one of the team’s best in its history — would be a cool gesture. It’d be a way to say “thank you” to a player who you’ve guaranteed something very special but, for whatever reason, haven’t followed through on. The Ring of Honor won’t lose its rarefied air if the Falcons add McClure (and again, some of the other very deserving players in their history) to the Ring of Honor. Hundreds of players have worn the uniform, after all, and only a small handful have ever been as impactful.
The only question now, then, is whether the Falcons will follow through on a long-ago promise anytime soon, or whether we’ll be writing the same article in 4-5 years.