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Matt Ryan Retirement

DearAtlanta copy

April 26th, 2008, my lifelong dream came true.

Ever since I can remember, all I ever wanted to do was play professional sports. And on that Saturday in New York City, the Atlanta Falcons gave me that chance. Thank you to Arthur Blank, Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff for making that dream of mine a reality.

The first season was special. I learned quickly from veteran teammates like Todd McClure, Keith Brooking, Brian Finneran, Lawyer Milloy, John Abraham and a whole bunch of others, what it took to be a true professional. For the rest of my career, I always tried to be that example for other teammates.

Football is the ultimate team sport, and your teammates and coaches make enjoying the highs so much fun and navigating the lows all the more bearable. I was lucky to be surrounded by so many great teammates and coaches. I learned very quickly what greatness looked like from Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner. A few years later, enters Julio Jones. And for ten years, I was lucky to be his teammate.

Seven years with Mike Smith as a head coach and six with Dan Quinn made me learn what leading men truly look like and shaped my views on leadership significantly. I'm so thankful to have played for those guys for so long and I appreciated my one year with Arthur Smith.

I truly believe that football, like life, is not simply about what you do, but rather who you do it with. I was a better player because of the people I was surrounded by.

So today – 16 years after being drafted – my childhood dream has officially come to an end. I'm honored to retire as a Falcon.

Thank you to all the Falcons fans for your continued support through the highs and the lows. I always felt your energy and passion. I want you to know that every day I felt the responsibility to give you the best version of myself. While we didn't accomplish everything we had hoped, I am proud of what we did, and I know that I gave everything I could to be the best that I possibly could.

You have no control in this profession of where you start. I am so lucky that my start and now my finish is here in Atlanta.

MAtt Ryan Retirement thank you

"Matt Ryan's impact on the Atlanta Falcons organization and the city of Atlanta is immeasurable. Matt was selected as the third-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, went on to win the NFL Rookie of the Year award and led us to the playoffs in his first season. That was the start of building a special career that now sees him holding every significant passing record in our franchise history. Matt always represented himself, his family, teammates and our team with class, character, and integrity on and off the field.

I cannot thank him enough for what he has meant to our team and fans, and I firmly believe he should and will be enshrined in Canton in the future and look forward to that day. On behalf of Falcons fans everywhere, I express our gratitude and congratulations to Matt, Sarah, Johnny, Marshall and Cal on Matt's award-winning career and my very best wishes for a bright future. Matt Ryan is a Falcon for life and he and his family will always be part of the fabric of Atlanta."

-Arthur M. Blank