Matt Bryant is suiting up in a different kind of uniform this offseason. The kicker has a love for marine life and is spending some of his time this summer interning with the Georgia Aquarium.
Matt Bryant unlocks his cell phone and flips through his photo album before he finds and shows off a pic of two of his kids standing in an immense 1,000-gallon custom made fish tank that's being installed in his house. The new addition to his abode is a way to show off his passion for things away from the football field, and he's been delving deeper into that area this offseason.
Bryant has always had an interest in marine and wildlife, and when the opportunity to learn more about those things arose in the form of an internship with the Georgia Aquarium, the Falcons kicker jumped at the chance.
Every Wednesday in late spring leading into the summer, Bryant would get his workouts in at team headquarters in Flowery Branch and then trek to downtown Atlanta, where he'd spend a few hours learning about the different varieties of marine life at the Georgia Aquarium and what exactly it's going to take to maintain that 1,000-gallon tank in his house.
"I have my aquarium at home, and it's a chance for me to go home, sit in front of the aquarium and I'm able to relax," Bryant said. "I'm able to enjoy that moment and just be at ease. Coming here, to be able to see all the things that you don't normally get to see, it's a great experience for me and I think it's a great experience for anybody."
When AtlantaFalcons.com caught up with Bryant last week on his final day of the internship, he was working and learning in the Tropical Diver area, feeding different varieties of fish.
One of the big moments of that day was helping with something called target feeding with a Fiddler Ray, where Bryant would present what was basically a ping-pong paddle on a long rod to the ray and hide a piece of fish behind it. When the ray would approach the paddle, Bryant would pull it away and expose the fish for the ray to consume.
At the end of the day, there were hugs all around as Bryant said so-long to the internship and the aquarium workers he learned under, but the impact of the few weeks spent at the Georgia Aquarium will last much longer. Bryant went into the the experience with the idea of learning more about how to maintain his new tank, but as a 13-year NFL veteran, he knows that life in the NFL doesn't last forever.
That's why he's taking this experience and looking to apply it in other ways when football ends, and he's even toying around with the idea of getting a degree in marine biology when he hangs up his cleats.
"You try to tell the young guys that football and the NFL, it's the best part-time job you'll ever have," Bryant said. "The average career is three, four years. Find something that you enjoy doing after football. ... If there was a second career that I'd want to get into after football, this would be great for me. This would be a job that I would love to come and enjoy."