This morning I got up early to drive out to the Falcons headquarters in Flowery Branch for the team’s 9 AM press conference. As I got out of my car a stretch SUV limo came rolling down the hill loaded with the Ryan clan. One of the Falcons’ folks greeted them and gushed “you all look so good.” And they did. Perfectly pressed and fresh, you’d never guess the whirlwind they’ve been on during the past 48 hours. The Falcons staff ushered the family into a private area while the press slowly gathered in the team meeting room.
I know that the perception outside of Atlanta is that the organization is a mess. It’s not. Despite the off field issues, Arthur Blank changed the culture of the organization years ago. The facilities are first rate. The staff was very courteous. The infrastructure is there to handle, protect and promote Matt off the field.
As I was lingering around the hallways waiting for the press conference to start, I bumped into Matt. Like my brief encounters with him in the past, Matt comes off as genuine. He was beaming and very excited about coming to Atlanta and glad there is a nice BC contingent in the area.
The press conference started (you can watch it here on atlantafalcons.com). Arthur Blank led off and made an emphasis on the character of both his first round draft picks (the Falcons also drafted USC Tackle Sam Baker). Blank also took a moment to address the Ryan and Baker families directly.
Following the press conference all the parties posed for a variety of pictures. It had the feel of a bridal party being directed through the alter portraits: “OK, we need Matt and Sam and Mr. Blank. Great! Now, just Matt and Sam. Got it. Hold up the jerseys. Ok, the whole Ryan family is next…”
After the pictures, Matt sat down for one on ones with the local media.
The thing BC fans should be most proud of is how Matt carries himself. Even when the cameras were off, Matt took the time to introduce himself to everyone in a polite confident manor. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. He wasn’t too cool or oblivious. Even the receptionist, who was just putting on her headset as Matt was wrapping up in the lobby (and in her own world). Matt took the time to come over to her desk, extend his hand and introduce himself.
A few other notes:
-- Arthur Blank’s son wore a BC t-shirt
-- Matt and Sam Baker share the same agent - BC guy Tom Condon
-- Sports Illustrated had a special photo shoot right after the press conference. That note and the fact that Peter King was in the Falcons war room on Saturday leads me to believe Matt will be the focus of a big spread this week.