Matt Ryan grew up watching the likes of John Elway, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky. Now that Ryan’s meeting them, he’s realizing that they’ve swapped roles.
Though the Atlanta Falcons quarterback is certainly not in the same realm of stardom as what some would argue are the greatest quarterback, basketball player and hockey player of all-time, Ryan has made a name for himself in his first two professional seasons.
The former No. 1 overall pick is 20-10 as a starting signal-caller and led Atlanta to a playoff berth as a rookie. He’ll try to get them back there again this year … after golfing with a few more celebrities, of course.
Matt Ryan joined Mayhem in the AM on 790 the Zone in Atlanta to discuss rivalry games, meetings with sports greats and opening the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers:
On what game has been the biggest thus far in his young NFL career:
“I think the division games. You can’t pinpoint it to one team, but those division games are tough because you play them twice a year and you see the same guys year-in and year-out, the same coaches. You’re playing against the same schemes. Those games are tough and I feel like they separate you.”
On playing the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints twice:
“That’ll be a lot of fun. You know what? In the two years I’ve been here, we’ve played them really tough all four times. We’re 1-3 against them and, frankly, that’s not good enough, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. They’re going to be a good football team. I know it’s going to be a tough, competitive game and hopefully we can come out on top both times.”
On getting to know Michael Jordan:
“It’s crazy. I grew up and I think everybody, kind of my age, who followed basketball, Michael Jordan was it. Growing up, it didn’t matter if you liked football or basketball or baseball, it didn’t make a difference. Michael Jordan was the guy. When you get to talk to him and he’s asking you about the different trades and people we picked up in free agency, draft picks, all that kind of stuff, it’s pretty cool.”
On meeting John Elway:
“It was cool. I got to meet him for the first time last year and John is a really good guy. It’s amazing that just 10 years ago he was playing because he walks around gingerly. He took some pretty good beatings out there in Denver and kept playing.”
On whether long-term health is on the mind of a young quarterback:
“For sure. That’s one of the things that those guys tell you, too. You can’t be in good enough shape to really not be productive late in your career and you can’t just do it when you get older. You’ve got to start as soon as you get in. You have to start taking care of your body … when you’re young.”
On starting this year with the Pittsburgh Steelers:
“It’s going to be a tough test for Week One. One of the best defenses in the league. We’re going to have to show up and play well. I think it’s a great road test for us and a good start to the season. Hopefully we can go out there and be productive and get a win.”