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Transcript: Matt Ryan Contract Extension Press Conference

Posted Jul 26, 2013

Falcons owner and chairman Arthur Blank, general manager Thomas Dimitroff, head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan spoke to the media on Thursday after the first day of Russell Athletic Training Camp, the same day Ryan's five year contract extension was announced.

Arthur Blank opening statement:
“Good Evening.  Today is a significant day for us. It’s the first day of camp, start of a new season, my twelfth.  All of our draft picks are here.  Everyone is ready to roll, and today is obviously an important day for the franchise to all of us in Atlanta and to the gentleman on the far left and the two to the left of me as well.  We extended Matt’s contract today for another five years.  That deserves a round of applause from everybody in this room.  We can hear more about Matt and where we are in the club and from coach and Thomas and Matt himself, but I want to take a minute and thank CAA, Matt’s agents Tom Congdon, Ben Dogra.  They worked hard in Matt’s behalf, we have a number of players with CAA.  Thomas has developed a very close relationship with CAA.  Probably second only, to his wife and son.  They’ve worked closely with us and we very much appreciate that.  The contract itself is pretty complicated.  Great credit goes to Thomas, Rich McKay our CEO, and Nick Polk who worked very closely with Thomas in order to work this out.  If you remember back in 2008, many of you were here in 2008, the franchise was at a crossroads.  We made a number of turns, some which didn’t work out as we had hoped at that time.  In 2008 we were blessed and I was able to bring to Atlanta these two gentlemen to my left, Thomas Dimitroff and Coach Smith.  At the same time, there was a lot of pressure on us in the 2008 draft, in the terms of going in many different directions. If we had the time we could scroll back to 2008 and look at lots of media suggestions, reports, fans, etc.,  about where we should go with our draft pick.  I think Thomas and Smitty and the organization obviously made a brilliant decision.  I remember the dinner we had, I went with Thomas and Smitty and our coordinators and coaches etc., up to Boston for a chance to meet Matt personally for dinner and I don’t know there were between five to ten of us.  There were an awful lot of us and Matt was there by himself. Very young man, senior at Boston College, and yet he took all the questions and took us all on beautifully.  With the poise and the intelligence and the sense of himself that I was very impressed with and for the last five years we’ve seen that play out on the field, both on the field and off the field.  We have watched Matt mature.  If you look at his record in the last five years, it’s really extraordinary.  The 56 wins in the first five years is the most in the NFL history.  We’ve obviously, after many years having back to back not winning seasons, we’ve had five in a row, five consecutive winning seasons, 13 and 3.  Two out of the last three years in playoff appearances and 4 out of 5 of the last five years. In every sense of the word and every definition and every profile, Matt is a franchise quarterback.  Off the field, he has been as much of a leader whether he’s worked with the children’s hospital system in Atlanta, his wife Sarah Marshall has been fabulous in a variety of community efforts, supporting Matt, supporting us.  Our feeling that we have to win Super Bowls is not only on the field but off the field as well.  It’s always been our philosophy of rewarding players for performance, both in forms of results and in terms of anticipation.  I’ve said many times, we’re not going to rest really well until we have rings.  That’s who this is about and I have every confidence that these three gentlemen to our left, along with the rest of our coaches and players, with Matt at the number quarterback position, the number 2 position.  The number he wears will be the leader for us for many, many years to come.  I want to congratulate Matt.  We hope he will not only be our quarterback for the next five years but for the next 10 or 15 years.  At the same time, before I turn it over to Thomas and Matt, I’ll be having a private meeting with Matt a little later tonight, talking about becoming an investor on our new stadium.  I give him an opportunity of either doing that or maybe talking about a naming rights deal for the new stadium as well.  He’s got a brilliant family, a wonderful mom and dad and brothers and sisters, so it would be an honor to use the Ryan name on top of our stadium.  With that I’ll turn it over to Thomas and Matt give you a chance to think about that for a minute or two. ”
 
Thomas Dimitroff opening statement:
“Thank you Arthur, I appreciate it.  I want to take this opportunity, I know Coach Smith and I needed to think Arthur Blank for everything he’s done for us as far as allowing us to have the piggy bank so to speak, to go after the marquee players that we need to secure to be a championship caliber football team and we think we’re well on our way to doing that.  Matt, we’ve talked about this from the very beginning about Matt being our quarterback of the future and many years to come.  This deal today secures that, as Arthur had mentioned.  I think, suffice it to say, I’d say right now that we’re all glad we didn’t go defensive tackle in the third pick of the first round back in 2008.  I’m excited to have, obviously Matt on board for many years to come.  Congratulations to Sarah and the family as well and again, Matt provides us with all of the requisite traits on the field as we know and we feel he does that off the field and he is a quality person, probably a better person than he is football player.  So with that, I’d like to turn it over to Coach Smith.”
 
Head Coach Mike Smith opening statement:
“Thank you Thomas.  I just want to add to what both Arthur and Thomas said.  Matt has done some wonderful things as a football player since he got here in 2008, he’s a big reason for the success that we’ve had, and he has made me a better football coach.  There is no doubt about that.  I look forward to working with him for a long, long time.  Matt is the type of leader you want to have in your team.  I say it all the time, you went in the locker room first and you’ve got to have guys like Matt Ryan that have the drive and the passion to be the best that they can be.  That is probably the best trait that Matt has.  Congratulations to Matt and his family, it’s well deserved.  He has done a great job for us over the last five years. ”
 
Matt Ryan opening statement:
“I have to begin by thanking Mr. Blank, Thomas, the front office, and Coach Smith for this opportunity.  It’s an opportunity to continue my career in the place that I call home and the city that I love. I think we have the best fans in the League. They’ve been so receptive to my wife Sarah and I since we came down here in 2008. I’m really excited to have this done and to start answering questions about the 2013 season and to start to worry about what’s important, and that’s preparing ourselves for the 2013 regular season and making sure that over the course of the next six weeks before we start that we do everything we can to have ourselves ready to play. I have to thank my agents, Tom and Ben. The guys at CAA did a great job. I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the behind the scenes guys for the Falcons: Nick Polk, Rich McKay, and Thomas. I know these guys have been working extremely hard for however long they’ve been doing this. I really appreciate the way you guys have handled everything. Again, to Mr. Blank, I can’t thank you enough. It’s really awesome and I’m happy to be here.”
 
On getting the deal done and out of the way:
MR: “I think that for the most part, I was confident that it was going to get done in a timely fashion. I think both sides were. It is nice to have this done and, like I said, to start worrying about the things that are important. I didn’t worry about it or stress about it too much but it is always something that is being asked and something that you have to talk about and be involved in some of those things. So it’s nice to have that done and really now to have all of my focus, and I think collectively all of our focus, on what it should be and that’s doing whatever we can to be able to play.”
 
On whether his objectives were met in the contract:
MR: “These guys all make me sound better than I am, so I appreciate them for that. As far as all of the other stuff, I’ve always not worried about that business side of it. I always think that, as a player, if you’re hung up on or worried about that or if you’re spending your time thinking about all of those things then you’re taking away from what you should be doing. I’ve had that mindset since I came here and I don’t think that’s going to change. I think, the business side of it, I’ve got great agents and a great front office here. I just kind of let them handle it and stayed out of it as much as I could and then, when it was done, just shook hands and enjoyed it. It’s nice to have it done.”
 
On whether the contract raises the expectations of him and the pressure he faces:
MR: “I don’t think so. I think the expectations that we set for ourselves as a football team, and myself personally, are higher than what everyone else is going to try and put on you. My goal and my mindset has been the same since 2008. It’s about winning a championship, and it’s about getting rings. I’m just happy that I’m going to have the opportunity to do that here. No, I don’t worry about that side of it. I’m just going to do the best I can and work as hard as I possibly can and try and be the best football player I can be.”
 
On whether the contract gives him the flexibility to add more players if necessary:
Thomas Dimitroff: “Without getting into the minutia of the deal, we’ve said all along that we’re going to be creative with this contract in order for it to make sure that we keep our roster fluid and allows us the opportunity when need be to step up and make moves. Sometimes they’re for, unfortunately in a season for emergency, to replace injured players or whatever the need may be. We feel that we’ve done a very good job, like Arthur and Matt have mentioned, with Rich McKay and Nick Polk in terms of the creativity and the language of this contract. I think we came together with some really good, solid ideas to keep the door open down the road for our roster and contracts to be fluid.”
 
On if there was any doubt that the deal would not be done before the season started:
TD: “No there wasn’t any doubt, quite honestly. We said from the very beginning that we were hoping to have this done in an expeditious manner and we were going to move along and hopefully have it done quietly. I don’t know if I necessarily put a deadline on it out for you guys but we said that we would like to have it done before camp kicks off and obviously Coach Smith and Matt are very happy with that.”
 
On the reception he got from his teammates on the practice field:
MR: “It was the same as always. Obviously everyone in that locker room has been through this process at one point or another. We’ve all signed contracts at different times, so that’s kind of the business side. When we got out there, it was great to get out and get to work. I really think we had a productive first day. You never know how that first day is going to go but I really think that today we were extremely, extremely productive. We’re off to a good start and I guess everybody was supportive.”
 
On his thoughts about other QB contract signings this offseason:
MR: “It’s hard to miss. You guys report on it a lot. You see it, you do, but it’s not something that I lost sleep over or was glued to the TV for. Again, I’ve always had the kind of belief that if you worry about the things that are important, then the other things kind of take care of themselves. I’ve always had that mindset. No, to answer your question, I wasn’t too concerned with it.”
 
On the foundation of the roster:
MR: “I think we have the best front office, bar none, in the League. These guys do a great job of evaluating talent, and getting the right people in for what we do and then also, in the free agency market, finding veterans that fit in to what we do. First and foremost, like Coach Smith said, I think that one of the best things that’s been done, since I got here in 2008, is the way the locker room has been set up. We’ve had guys that have been the right fit for this organization. When you win first in this locker room, I think that transcends onto the field. These guys have done a great job. There are great football players on this team at a lot of different positions. As a quarterback it’s really fun to be a part of that.”


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