Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Veteran one step from age-old goal

Todd McClure

Todd McClure

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — When Todd McClure was drafted by the Falcons, they had just made the Super Bowl for the first time.

"You think it's going to be easy," he remembered.

Fourteen years later, McClure is still waiting for his first trip to the big game.

"I tell the young guys on this team that we have to take advantage of this opportunity," he said, "because it's not a given that you'll be in this position again next year."

When the Falcons host the 49ers on Sunday for the NFC title, McClure will be right in the middle of things.

McClure snaps the ball, then fades into the background while players such as Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez grab the headlines for Atlanta's high-octane offense.

But ask around the locker room, and everyone will say that McClure is the glue that holds the unit together.

"Todd has been huge for my career here in Atlanta," Ryan said. "He's a guy who doesn't get enough recognition. In all honesty, my first two years here, in terms of pass protection, Todd carried me. … He helped me out immensely."

As the longest-running member of the Falcons by far, McClure has gone through his share of ups and downs.

A seventh-round pick out of LSU in 1999, McClure went on to set a franchise record with 148 consecutive starts. Over the past dozen seasons, he's missed only four out of 192 games.

McClure has gotten this close to the Super Bowl only once. In the 2004 season, with QB Michael Vick, the Falcons came up one win short, losing at Philadelphia in the conference championship game.

"This is why we play the game," said McClure, who turns 36 next month. "That's why I'm still playing this game."

49ERS CUT CUNDIFF: The 49ers released Billy Cundiff, making David Akers the only kicker on the roster heading into Sunday. San Francisco signed Cundiff Jan. 1 to compete with Akers, who missed 13 of 42 field-goal tries this season.

ABRAHAM STILL LIMITED: The Falcons plan on having DE John Abraham ready, though he was limited in practice for the third straight day. He expects to start Sunday.

Veteran one step from age-old goal 01/18/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 10:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: Steven Souza Jr.'s status is a major concern


    The Rays will know more about the status of RF Steven Souza Jr. later today after reviewing results of a scheduled MRI and exam of the left hip he strained in Wednesday's game on an awkward slide into second.

    Steven Souza Jr. strained his left hip in Wednesday's game on an awkward slide into second.
  2. Lightning's Ondrej Palat happy with new deal, new talent

    Lightning Strikes

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) works to play the puck against the Winnipeg Jets during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday evening (01/03/17).
  3. 2008 playoff thoughts in bloom for Rays; Souza injury not expected serious in loss to A's

    The Heater

    OAKLAND, Calif. — Before the 7-2 loss to the A's and Steven Souza Jr.'s hip injury, or at least scare, Wednesday started with good vibes in the Rays' clubhouse.

    Rays rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. hurts his hip after an awkward slide into second base during the first inning.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways on Wednesday's Rays-A's game

    The Heater

    Jake Faria wasn't going straight to Cooperstown at 500-0, so a day like Wednesday was going to happen, when he made too many mistakes. The challenge now is how he responds. Incidental casualty: His first loss in nine starts since getting engaged.

  5. Rory McIlroy at 20-1 for British Open? 'Good time to back me' (w/ video)


    SOUTHPORT, England — So artful are the usual gambling options in this creative nation that anyone can bet on some serious minutiae concerning the 146th British Open, which begins today. Which golfer will finish first among Thai players, among Indian players, among Swedes, among Danes, among Scandinavians, among …

    Rory McIlroy, center, chats with caddie JP Fitzgerald, right, and swing coach Michael Bannon during a practice round at Royal Birkdale. “I feel like it’s all coming together,” he says.