When I saw the Atlanta Journal-Constitution headline blaring that Matt Ryan had responded to Roger Goodell's comments about rookie contracts, I saw the following sequence playing out:
1. Matt Ryan says Roger Goodell is stupid.
2. Matt Ryan is found dead.
Thankfully, he reigned himself in and the second scenario seems unlikely to happen. Instead, we got this typically savvy statement from the media-friendly Ryan:
Matt Ryan isn't apologizing for benefiting from a system that allows top NFL draft picks to receive massive contracts. Even so, he appreciates where Roger Goodell was coming from last week when the commissioner questioned paying millions in guaranteed salary to rookies who have yet to play a down in the league.
"You can also understand the other side of it, the concern of veterans who have been in the league 10, 12 years and proven themselves but not seen the money," Ryan said in a phone interview Tuesday. "I can understand both sides."
I wouldn't normally waste an entire post on this, but I think this illustrates something about Matt Ryan that is absolutely critical to the business side of this franchise. Before he ever takes the field, Ryan is proving to be a solid quote, a quiet and model citizen, and a guy you can probably build a PR campaign around. Sure, he's pretty vanilla, but vanilla beats the hell out of becoming the poster boy for the Atlanta Police Department's Major Crimes Unit.
That's critical because he's going to become the face of this franchise whether or not he wants it. He may not see the field until the end of this season, but he's setting himself up for success by getting the franchise behind him. It's not going to feel like a blessing when he's taking his licks out there, but Ryan is in a situation where he'll be the undisputed starter within a year and has an owner willing to spring both the big bucks and the unrequited love that any QB dreams of.
It's a bit early to tell, but so far Ryan's handling this well. Even if his contract is way too huge.