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Exclusive: The NFL's new most hated player Jacob Tamme discusses Falcons, giving back to soldiers

Jacob Tamme spoke to The Falcohoilc about his second season with Matt Ryan, adjusting without Peyton Manning, learning Kyle Shanahan's offense, helping out wounded soldiers, and more.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

If you catch passes, it doesn't get much better than playing with Peyton Manning. The Hall Of Fame quarterback broke records and made every teammate's life easier. Jacob Tamme was fortunate to play seven seasons with him, and after developing into a reliable tight end, he entered free agency and decided to take on a new challenge with the Atlanta Falcons.

The dependable veteran is entering his ninth season in the league. As a fourth round pick from the 2008 draft, the same one that produced quarterback Matt Ryan, that is an impressive achievement. Tamme was never considered as a top-tier tight end or athletic specimen, so his productive career has come from having a high football IQ, excellent hands, strong work ethic, and precise route running, and the teams around him.

I've always been a part of good teams. That's what helped me not worry about individual stats and things like that. It's what helped me longevity wise. There were seasons that I didn't have as many catches, and then I would have sixty catches in one season (67 in 2010). I treat every year with the same mindset. Always ready to contribute, while trying to get better every year.

This off-season was one of the most exciting off-seasons ever for me. I really improved in a lot of areas working in Kyle Shanahan's offense. As long as you have the desire to improve, compete, and work on your craft, I think anyone has a chance at longevity in this league.

Manning always considered Tamme a good friend and teammate. When Tamme decided to sign for Atlanta in 2015, it marked the end of a long era. It was a tough decision, but the opportunity to play for a well-established quarterback, who was entering his prime, intrigued Tamme.

It was for sure difficult because Peyton and I were really close. When you play with one quarterback for your entire career, you develop a bond with them. Peyton and I had a great relationship on and off the field. When it's someone like Peyton, it makes the relationship even more valuable. That was a big reason behind looking closely at different options as a free agent. I looked at Atlanta as an enticing opportunity with Matt Ryan.

If you are going to leave a situation and player like Peyton, you need to have a guy like Matt. This move helped me experience all the leadership qualities and presence about him that a top-tier quarterback is supposed to have, which made the transition a lot smoother for me.

Similar to Manning, Ryan dedicates countless hours working with his teammates and studying film. He is known as a true professional, especially in that regard. Tamme knew about that prior to joining the Falcons. He hasn't been disappointed so far.

I always thought nobody outworked Peyton Manning in the history of football. Now that could be a bold statement. It's hard to say that given my career, but I will say that Peyton's work ethic was unbelievable. The cool thing about coming to Atlanta was Matt Ryan being in that same mold. He has those same qualities. First guy in the building, last guy out.

We sit on the airplane for a road trip and most players start watching a movie. Matt pulls out his iPad and starts going through the gameplan or watches film. He'll take more notes, which shows everything you want from your quarterback. That leadership and preparation is what you need from someone playing the most important position on the field.

When playing for Indianapolis and Denver, Tamme played in pass-heavy offenses. Under Dirk Koetter, the Falcons started throwing the ball more often with Ryan and three stellar receiving options. Many expected the Falcons to continue that model, given Ryan's ability and unclear situation at running back. With Shanahan being hired as offensive coordinator and Devonta Freeman emerging as a star, the Falcons were far more balanced last year, and Tamme had to adjust to a diverse role.

The adjustment was one of the more exciting things about coming here. It was being in a different offense. Obviously, I had a lot of fun playing with Peyton for seven years. There wasn't much difference between playing in Indianapolis and Denver. You get a chance to be in an offense like Kyle's, where a tight end can play everywhere. My style has always helped me play in several different ways.

Lining up at different spots on the outside as a receiver, in the slot, in-line blocking, and as a h-back. I've always tried to be versatile. I've been in offenses that have used the tight end in a variety of ways, but Kyle uses more diverse packages. The way that we teach, respect, and talk about the running game is really cool to me. I've enjoyed it.

During the offseason, Tamme found an endeavor to stay active. He is supporting a great cause known as Swings for Soldiers Classic. The event gives back to wounded soldiers by hosting a golfing event and building homes for America's heroes. It was a long detailed process to create such a massive event. Tamme was dedicated to putting all the pieces together.

Seven years ago, my wife and I started it. We sat in the kitchen and knew we wanted to put some time and energy towards supporting our veterans. We were kicking around ideas on how to do it. Researching different charitable organizations, looking for what they do, and the people behind it. We did a lot of research regarding creating homes for our troops and finding a concept that helps build houses for wounded vets. That was our mission and we made it our own.

I've been involved in a lot of golfing events over the past ten to fifteen years. I decided that I could take the things that I like the best and breed it into my own. Little did we know how much work it would end up being, while making a big impact in the process. We put on a nice event to raise funds for wounded soldiers. In our first year (2009), we spent so much time on a ton of things, which helped make it into a yearly staple. Every year, we have a veteran and family come to the event. We'll spend time with them and then over the next six months to calendar year, they had a home built from Homes For Our Troops.

The first year we did it in Lexington, Kentucky. We came as honorary guests with Jennifer Matthews. The event went really smooth. We went from about five in the morning to ten-thirty at night. As we were leaving the course, I realized how amazing this was. For the first year, we raised a lot of money and everyone had a great experience. I was thinking if we could somehow do this again. I knew how much time and energy it took to accomplish this. My wife and I spent so much time on this over the past three months. Chase, who is one of the wounded soldiers that has prosthetic legs, was in his wheelchair and looked up to me and said, "Jacob, today was a great day. Next year, I'm going to play in the golf tournament." That moment forward, we knew that the event would continue. It has been seven years now and seven different families have been helped.

We've done events in Indiana, Virginia, and Kentucky. In past years, only one family could make the event. This year, we had every family there, which was really special. The veterans and families got to know each other. My wife and I have been able to go the ceremonies and other events. It's an amazing thing, when people want to make a difference. These soldiers had a life-changing negative moment fighting on our behalf. We want to give them a life-changing positive one.

With the first event being in Kentucky, many staff members from the university of Kentucky came down. We do have celebrity golfers for each team. Five or six NFL players usually come out. Former Kentucky athletes and coaches play as well. We try to include one of them for each group. With the golf event and creating a home for a wounded soldier, we do everything we can to make this a special day.

This yearly event has changed lives for those that have scarified their livelihood, while serving for the United States. Tamme is very passionate about supporting the troops and giving back to them. Other than contributing to Swings for Soldiers Classic, Tamme was involved in another offseason event.

He was voted as the NFL's most hated player. A bizarre Twitter poll placed Tamme with some of the most polarizing figures in the NFL. The soft-spoken tight end was voted over every other option. He found it very amusing.

I logged onto Twitter to check the news and Sirius XM tweeted something out from their NFL account. It was a poll with Tom Brady, Richard Sherman, Cam Newton, and myself. It was pretty amazing to get on the list. I found out someone called into the show, who was a huge Dallas Clark fan. He didn't like the fact that I took away his touchdowns in Indianapolis.

That was hilarious and I got a kick out of it. I had to text Dallas about this fan calling into the show. To get on the list was pretty cool. The fans had a ton of fun with it. I'm sure there are people that don't like me. I assume most of it wastongue and cheek. We had a great time with the tweets being directed towards me. I'll wear that label proudly...sort of.

Tamme realizes that the offense needs to make strides, starting in Week 1 against former Falcons head coach Mike Smith. A second-half collapse left analysts and fans scratching their head about the Falcons. Instead of pinpointing certain issues, the veteran believes in a common mentality that will help solve the offense's shortcomings.

The main thing is being more consistent. Building on from what we started in the offseason and training camp. It's cliché, but this is a one-day at a time thing. We got 16 games. Take it one day at a time, get better, and don't care about the outside noise. That will help us become one of the teams that you don't want to mess with by end of the season.