Behind the Facemask: Matt Ryan

Frank Kleha: What was your first car?

Matt Ryan: It was a navy blue Ford Explorer. I was a senior in high school. It was nice but it had a few miles on it. Ironically, my second car was a hunter green Ford Explorer and it was my brother's before it was mine.

FK: Who's your favorite athlete in another sport to watch?

MR: Lebron James. He's just so physically gifted. He's just a dominant, dominant athlete. He's so strong, fast, big, so skilled and he's unselfish. I think he could dominate a game by scoring, rebounding or assists. Plus, I'm a big basketball fan.

FK: What about as a kid? Who was your favorite sports figure growing up?

MR: It has to be Michael Jordan. For the time frame that I grew up he was it.

FK: What was your best sports moment as a youth?

MR: I was playing football for the 75-pound Huskies in second or third grade. We were playing at Villanova University in the championship game. I was playing fullback and I had a 35-yard touchdown run and we won the game. That's my most exciting first sports memory.

FK: Favorite movie of all time?

MR: Tough to pick one, but the movie that I watch all the time when it comes on TV - and I watch it all the way through — is "A Few Good Men". I have a problem with that, too. I can't stop a movie once I start it. Every time that movie comes on I watch it to the end.

FK: Do you have a favorite sports movie?

MR: I would say "Rocky" or "Rocky IV". Those two are tied.

FK: Coolest experience you've had off the field since coming in to the NFL?

MR: There have been so many cool ones. Travel has been one of things that has been really cool to do. To be able to go places with my wife and see so many different spots that we've had the opportunity to do has been special. The other one would be playing at Augusta. You watch it as a kid growing up and as a golf fan you never in your life think you are going to get an invite to play there. To have had that opportunity has been really cool.

FK: What's your favorite hole at Augusta?

MR: Amen Corner – 11, 12 and 13. The coolest part to me was when you walked down the fairway at 11 you look down at 11 green, 12 green and 13 tee behind it and Ray's Creek in front. To me that was the best part of my experience there seeing (Amen Corner) for the first time. 

FK: Favorite course not named Augusta to play?

MR: Peachtree Golf Club here in Atlanta. I've been lucky to play a ton of golf courses around Atlanta, but to me that course is my favorite. The trees and everything in there is beautiful. The course is awesome and the design is so good and it's always in perfect shape.

FK: What are the golf courses you've always wanted to play, but haven't yet?

MR: Cypress (Point) in Monterey. I've never played anywhere in California, but if I could play anywhere Cypress would be my spot. Pebble Beach and Shinnecock (Hills) in the Hamptons would be the others.

FK:If you could play golf with anyone, what is your ultimate foursome?

MR: (Without hesitation) I would have to take my dad and two brothers. I don't get to do it as much as I would like because they are out of town. But to me if I can play golf with my dad and two brothers that is the best.

FK: What three places have you enjoyed traveling to the most?

MR: Italy was awesome. Paris is probably my favorite city that I've been to and Hawaii would be the third place.

FK: Where in Italy have you visited?

MR: Rome, Florence and Tuscany.

FK: If you could sit down and have dinner with any four people throughout history who would they be?

MR: I have played this with Sarah and my answers change all the time. I would love to sit down with Babe Ruth. I always try to pick one of the presidents, too. But if I could just have a table with Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton that would be the last three and that would be cool. Dinner with Babe Ruth and the last three presidents and just hear about what's gone on in my lifetime behind the scenes would be great. It would be like… 'what do I know that I really don't know.' Those presidents are all wildly different and I think that would be pretty cool to do.

FK: What's your guilty pleasure?

MR: Pizza. I love pizza, that's number one.

FK: Can you name your favorite pizza place?

MR: Absolutely… Little Nicky's in North Wildwood, New Jersey. That's my favorite pizza. I like straight up cheese pizza. And I get made fun of all the time because of that. 

FK: What something about you that people would be surprised to know?

MR: I'm boring. I think I'm more boring than people think. I like vanilla ice cream and pizza with just cheese (laughing). I would have to say that people would be kind of surprised that I really like music. My dad taught me how to play the guitar when I was young so I've never really taken lessons. I just learned how to play from him. It's something that's a bond that he and I share and it's really cool. Now, my younger brother plays as well. It's something different and it's an outlet. During the season sometimes it's nice to turn the TV off and play for a little while.

FK: What music do you like to listen to?

MR: I listen to a little bit of everything. I get most of my rap exposure here (with a smile) with the numerous DJs we have on the team. I like everything from a little bit of country (since I've been down here in Georgia for a while) to anything you hear in the rock, acoustic area. Anything live is fun to listen to also.  

FK: Do you ever help select the music that's played in the Georgia Dome during pregame warm-ups?

MR: I have never picked our music. Our DJs William Moore, Harry Douglas and Sean Weatherspoon handle that for us.

FK: What's your personal playlist look like these days?

MR: Awolnation — Sail; Foo Fighters — Best of You; TI — What You Know; Eminem — Till I Collapse.

FK: First concert?

MR: I think it was a James Taylor concert when I was in high school.

FK: Best concert ever attended?

MR: The best concert I ever went to was a group called Dispatch. It's an Indie rock band when I was in college. We saw their final show, at the time, at the Hatch in Boston. It was right on the Charles River and they closed down Storrow Drive that runs through there. So it was an outdoor concert that went on to the streets of Boston. It was a lot of fun.

FK: Who was your hollywood crush growing up?

MR: Jennifer Aniston. But she's still around! When 'Friends' came out I was young and we weren't really allowed to watch it, but that was the deal.

FK: If you weren't playing football, what would you be doing?

MR: I guess there are two answers. If I didn't ever get into the NFL I probably would be into coaching and trying to do something along those lines. When I was real young I wanted to be a lawyer because I liked 'A Few Good Men'. I loved that movie and liked reading John Grisham books and both had to do with lawyers.

FK: Any pet peeves?

MR: I'm pretty easy going. But not being prepared (is a pet peeve). That's one of the things, being a professional that drives me crazy. Not being prepared with whatever it is that we are doing during the week. That's one of the things I try to pass on to other people is to be prepared for whatever we are doing.

FK: Is there anything you wish would come back into fashion?

MR: Baggier clothes. Everything is slim fit now. Not like super baggy stuff, but a little more relaxed fit would be nice.

FK: Bucket list of things you would like to do someday?

MR: Most of it has to do with traveling. I would like to hit all three continents — South America, Africa on a safari, and Australia/New Zealand. To travel to three different spots that's on my life's bucket list. I really like to travel and see different things.

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