A revealing take on Matt Ryan from someone who knows him well

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Once an Eagle, now a Falcon. (AJC file photo)

Today’s exercise is a bit different — and, for me, not all that much  exercise. This will be about Matt Ryan, about whom I’ve written on a regular basis for nearly a decade, but it won’t include much of my writing. (About here, I can hear y’all yelling, “Hallelujah!”)

I’ve known Chris Cameron for close to 40 years. He was a few years behind me at the University of Kentucky. He’s from Ashland, which is 70 miles up the mighty Ohio from my hometown. I was a cub reporter at the Lexington Herald-Leader when Chris was a student intern in UK sports information. He was very sharp and very funny in a sarcastic way. You could tell he was going places, and sure enough …

After graduation and a stint as an assistant SID at Florida, Chris became Kentucky’s SID in 1988, right about the time the basketball program fell into disgrace — not his doing, I stipulate — due to the infamous Emery envelope. He was also there for the back-from-oblivion rise of Rick Pitino and his Unforgettables and the epic Duke game and UK’s run to the 1993 Final Four. He then moved to Atlanta and started his own PR firm.

In 1998, Gene DiFilippo — once an assistant AD at Kentucky — hired Chris to be Boston College’s head of sports communications. Over the years, I’d run into Chris periodically, but with BC joining the ACC I saw him even more. I hope this won’t embarrass him, but I considered him one of the best in the business. (He left BC last year and is now a Boston realtor.)

Cutting — not quickly, I concede — to the chase: On Sept. 6, 2008, I was in Chestnut Hill for Georgia Tech’s first ACC game under Paul Johnson. Ryan had been drafted by the Falcons that April and just named the starter for their regular-season opener. I mentioned that Ryan seemed the real deal.

Chris corrected me. “He’s the best,” Chris said. “He’s the very best.”

Publicists often see a side of athletes that they wouldn’t, shall we say, want publicized. That’s where Ryan, according to Chris, was/is different. For his WordPress blog Cam It Up!, Chris has written a lengthy remembrance of his Matty Ice days, and it’s so illuminating that I’m tempted to crib the whole thing. But I’d rather you click and read it in its entirety on his site. It that’s good. Here’s the one excerpt I’ll offer:

“To brag about knowing Matt Ryan would be disingenuous simply because Matt Ryan would never brag about anything. He is the essence of humility. But someone needs to brag about him, because in a world that sometimes seems to have gone mad, in a sports subculture that seems even madder, we’re very, extremely, incredibly, enormously fortunate to have Matt Ryan.”

There are anecdotes interspersed — Ryan’s reaction to Chris saying BC planned a Heisman campaign for him is priceless — and famous names (Tebow!) appear. Chris recalls the same touchdown pass against Tech in 2007 that I’ve discussed at length with Ryan over the years. (What can I say? It left an impression.) But I offer this mostly because, for the hundreds of times I’ve spoken with Ryan, I concede that Chris Cameron knows him better than any of us in the media ever will.

And I just lied: I’m passing along one further snippet — but only as another teaser, and only because I appreciate an eye for detail. Writes Chris: “In the small world department, Tom Brady and his wife Gisele live in Chestnut Hill, Mass., 1.6 miles away from the Boston College campus, where Matt met the young woman who would become his wife.”

The ol’ UK journalism degree at work! Now go read the whole thing. It’s the very best.

Reader Comments 0

16 comments
TideDawg
TideDawg

Paul Johnson???? He may be a good coach but complaining about the schedule and that it was arranged that way deliberately is ridiculous. The ACC has something against Tech.....Why? I don't know how the scheduling works but the article I read said coaches/Universities got to review the schedules and make certain changes before they were published. Why didn't he do that then? Maybe his complaints are valid...I don't know. I haven't heard other coaches complain. Why hasn't that new AD chimed in if it's unfair? Maybe the ACC doesn't like Johnson or Tech because they bring little to the table in revenue for the conference, or maybe not! I don't think Johnson did Tech any favors with his comments.

GTroller
GTroller

He lit my Jackets up pretty good.  But New England has a better defense than GT.  Go Patriots!

AMFILMSHD
AMFILMSHD

@GTroller @DawgNole do you think the pats D has played anyone?  they lost badly to Seattle at home, and you can't sugar coat it with the score as Tom looked scared and clueless.  haha


Atlanta 45  NE  17


#bookit

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GTroller

You've forfeited your right to post due the sheer absurdity of this "contribution":

_________________

GTroller January 20, 2017

This will be an easy game--- for Green Bay:  GB 38 ATL 17.  Falcons are a poor football program.

USMC6511
USMC6511


Looks like the naysayers who complained of the sore armed QB can eat some CROW!


TideDawg
TideDawg

Matt Ryan appears to be everything that's written about him. But, this is a professional sport where nice guys do finish last. They finish last only in professional sports, not off the field where class & character prevail. Lest I remind you that a player can go from hero to goat in one play. Throw a pick six or fumble the game away and the transformation is made from hero to goat. Personally, I'll take Ryan....hero or goat....loved or reviled....because character wins in the big picture. Players are not drafted by class & character, but if you get one that has talent, class, & character you have a winner.

Thaddeus17
Thaddeus17

Wonderful article, and Chris Cameron's linked story is beautifully done. What a great tribute to the man that Matt Ryan is.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Matt is the Roger Staubach of today's NFL: humble, sincere, dedicated, determined and, of course, greatly talented. He fits perfectly in our southern city of grace and politeness and we are indeed fortunate to have him. Never once has he drawn any negativity or self promotion at the expense of his team. On the contrary, he always credits his coaches and teammates for his success.

How could anyone pull against this man?

TadT
TadT

I'm a lifelong Falcons fan but Roger Staubach has been my all time favorite QB since childhood for the reasons you mention. Since Matt has been with us I've marveled at his consistency and talent. He's carried this team on his back outscoring teams for winning seasons without decent defenses, occasionally without a backfield, and unfairly bore the brunt of the blame for post season failures without complaint. The way he's carried himself is indeed reminiscent of Staubach and would explain why I "ride or die" with this young man. I wish MattyIce and the Falcons and this city a successful Super Bowl.

Savdon
Savdon

Thanks for the link Mark.  Great story!