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Deuce is done: Saints' rushing record holder retiring at age 31

NEW ORLEANS -- Deuce McAllister has decided to retire from professional football, ending an injury-plagued, eight-year NFL career in which he rewrote the Saints' rushing records.

McAllister hasn't played since 2008, but he briefly rejoined the Saints last week to serve as an honorary captain for the team's divisional-playoff victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.

McAllister confirmed his plans to retire to The Associated Press on Tuesday afternoon, and the Saints announced soon after in a one-sentence e-mail that the running back had been placed on the team's reserve-retired list.

The move opens up an active roster spot for the Saints, who will host the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night.

The Saints were off Tuesday and didn't announce any new roster additions.

McAllister, 31, was a first-round draft pick by the Saints in 2001. At 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, he was a punishing runner who could move piles. He also possessed the agility to make tacklers miss in the open field.

McAllister grew up near Jackson, Miss., an area dominated by Saints fans, played at the University of Mississippi and became one of the most popular players in franchise history.

The Louisiana Superdome crowd routinely let out elongated howls of "Doooo-se" whenever the Saints set up their offense near an opponent's end zone. Fans even did so a couple times Saturday.

McAllister is the Saints' career rushing leader with 6,096 yards. His 55 total touchdowns and 49 rushing TDs also are team records. However, he needed reconstructive surgery to repair serious knee injuries in 2005 and 2007, and he struggled to regain his form after the second operation.

McAllister was the only Saints player to have four 1,000-yard seasons as a rusher, the last coming in 2006, when he helped New Orleans advance to its first NFC Championship Game. He was named to Pro Bowls after the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

As his football career flourished, McAllister diversified his business interests, opening car dealerships in Jackson, purchasing a stake in the McAlister's Deli chain and investing in the restoration of the historic King Edward Hotel in downtown Jackson. Last year, however, one of his car dealerships went into bankruptcy and closed.

McAllister maintains a residence in the New Orleans area and plans to remain with the Saints in an unofficial capacity throughout the playoffs.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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