The 2016 Falcons draft class was a transformative one, bringing in talented young defenders who would key a run to the Super Bowl, but the most impactful addition for that great team came in free agency. Atlanta’s deal with Alex Mack, one of the largest of the decade for the franchise, provided the Falcons with an elite center who helped Kyle Shanahan’s offense run the way it was supposed to.
Tough as nails—he infamously played part of the Super Bowl on a broken leg—and a gifted blocker, Mack was stellar for four years in Atlanta and quite good in a fifth one, proving to be one of the few reliable cogs on an ever-changing Falcons line. His 2016 season was one for the ages, but the fact that he more than lived up to his contract with the Falcons and was such a stellar player for five years makes him someone who is easy to remember fondly.
Today, he announced his retirement. Mack finished a sterling 13 year career in the NFL with Shanahan in San Francisco, having made the Pro Bowl seven times over the years with the Browns, Falcons, and 49ers. He is unquestionably one of the best centers to play over the past two decades, and retires among the top 20 centers in terms of games played.
Mack was the rare signing that was met with nearly universal acclaim when it happened and lived up to the hype. Atlanta had muddled through 2015 with Mike Person under center, who quietly blocked decently well but had several high-profile mishaps snapping the ball, and were looking to solidify center with Jake Matthews at left tackle, Andy Levitre locking down left guard, and Chris Chester and Ryan Schraeder locked in on the right side of the line. Mack would go on to start all but two games for the Falcons over five seasons, being named to the Pro Bowl in three straight seasons, and per Pro Football Focus allowed just 10 sacks in those five years.
Mack’s career in Atlanta was much shorter than Todd McClure’s or Jeff Van Note’s, the two ironmen and franchise legends of Falcons centers, but his impact in those five seasons was an outsized one. He was a great Falcon, a truly great NFL center, and we wish him well on whatever’s next for him in life after football.