Matt Ryan completely changed the state of the Falcons. Not only did he carry the franchise out of mediocrity following the team’s fallout with Michael Vick, but he represented the organization with class on and off the field for 14 seasons. Ryan has racked up nearly every franchise record, a rookie of the year award, an NFL MVP, and four Pro Bowls.
So to say this is a difficult goodbye for fans, teammates, and Arthur Blank is an understatement. The Falcons owner thinks of the players on his team as his children, which has bit him in the ass more than a few times. However, Ryan has been everything and more for Blank, so it’s totally predictable he describes trading Ryan as “one of the most difficult decisions we have faced as a club.”
“Matt Ryan has been the epitome of a franchise quarterback during his time here in Atlanta. He has represented this organization with great class, professionalism and leadership, both on and off the field, over the past 14 years. It is difficult to overstate what he has meant to me personally, our organization, his teammates and our fans. From his first day in the building, Matt has given his all in the pursuit of winning a championship for Atlanta. His arrival in 2008 instantly made us a contender in the NFC and he’s been our quarterback through the most successful era in Falcons history. Matt led us to the playoffs six times, including two NFC Championship games, and the first Super Bowl appearance under my stewardship of the franchise. He holds every significant passing record in club history, is an All-Pro, an NFL MVP and is without question one of the greatest players in Falcons history. He will one day be added to our Ring of Honor, and it is my belief that a bust in Canton will follow in short order. This business is not without its difficult decisions, and while this is one of the most difficult decisions we have faced as a club, we feel it is in the best long-term interests of both the Atlanta Falcons and Matt Ryan. On behalf of the entire Falcons organization, I wish him success as he continues his career and know that he will bring the same dedication and professionalism to his next club. We also wish health and happiness to his wife Sarah and their twin boys, Johnny and Marshall.”
Within a week’s time, fans of Atlanta sports have said goodbye to two faces of two different franchises. If this statement from Blank seems familiar, it is because it is. Alex Anthopoulos described the decision to trade for Matt Olson and let Freddie Freeman walk in free agency as the “hardest transaction” he’s ever made. The Falcons are in a much different spot than the Braves. The city’s football team is in a complete rebuild phase, while the baseball team is set to compete for championships for the next decade.
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