Longtime Falcon center McClure retires

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Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Monday that retiring center Todd McClure will have a home in the team’s Ring of Honor.

Todd McClure (rear), a veteran center for the Falcons, hugs team owner Arthur Blank. McClure spent his entire career with the Falcons, playing in 198 games.  CURTIS COMPTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
CURTIS COMPTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Todd McClure (rear), a veteran center for the Falcons, hugs team owner Arthur Blank. McClure spent his entire career with the Falcons, playing in 198 games.

The Falcons’ longtime center officially announced his retirement in a ceremony attended by quarterback Matt Ryan and offensive linemen Tyson Clabo, Sam Baker and Justin Blalock.

Blank said McClure’s career merits him joining former stars as Deion Sanders, Tommy Nobis and Steve Bartkowski in the team’s Ring of Honor.

McClure was a seventh-round pick out of LSU in 1999 and became one of the team’s most durable players. He set a franchise record with 148 consecutive starts and missed only four games over the past dozen seasons.

McClure, 36, was emotional at times Monday.

“That’s what I’m going to miss the most about this game, guys like those sitting right here,” he said. “The friendships we’ve had, the conversations we’ve had, the joy we’ve had in the locker room on Sunday after a big win, the struggles we’ve gone through and gotten each other through. … I cherish every moment that we’ve spent together.”

Clabo said it was difficult watching McClure struggle with his emotions.

“He’s an incredible mentor,” said Clabo, the offensive tackle who joined McClure on the Falcons’ starting line for seven seasons. “It’s going to take several leaders to do the job he did in that respect.”

McClure played in 198 games, including 195 starts. He made every start in 2012 after missing three games in 2011 with a right knee injury. He often played through knee problems.

“I’m going to look forward to waking up on Monday morning and being able to walk,” McClure said.

Coach Mike Smith said he always relied on McClure as a leader.

“Believe me, if we don’t have mentors and guys like Todd McClure on our team, we don’t have the success we’ve had over the last five years,” Smith said.

McClure said he was grateful he played only for the Falcons.

“To be in one place for my whole career, I definitely feel blessed,” he said.

GIANTS: New York’s offensive line seemingly is returning intact for 2013. The Giants on Monday said left guard Kevin Boothe has re-signed after spending time on the free agent market. It is a one-year deal, Boothe said.

Boothe started all 16 games at left guard last season, and the past 22 games overall. The Cornell product has started games at center and left guard and filled in at right guard and tackle.

COLTS: Indianapolis has invited receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey for a two-day visit. Oakland took Heyward-Bey with the seventh overall pick in the draft in 2009, but he never lived up to the hype. In four seasons, he has 140 career receptions for 2,071 yards and 11 touchdown catches.


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