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Is Sports Illustrated deliberately throwing shade at Matt Ryan with their NFL Preview covers?

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Fact: Matt Ryan had an imaginary friend named Herbert Maxwell Simpson III as a child

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is a fantastic football player. You’re here because you’re a Falcons fan, and unless you’ve raided Dave’s Mad Dog 50-50 stash, it’s safe to assume you’re presently a Ryan fan. His credentials are undeniable: He was the MVP in 2017, an honor he undoubtedly earned. He played gutsy football in the Super Bowl loss, earning the highest quarterback rating ever by a Super Bowl loser. He owns many leather-bound books and his apartment smells of rich mahogany. I could go on, but you get the point.

So what gives with Sports Illustrated’s NFL Preview covers? Ryan occupies a uniquely pitiful spot in the bottom left hand corner of each cover. It explicitly suggests he’s an outsider, someone outside the success bubble looking in. The AJC pointed this out earlier today and they showcase each of the four covers. The cover prominently featuring Tom Brady should elicit your most gratuitous vomiting.

If they did this on purpose - and to be clear, they did - it’s disappointing. Are we really still at a point where this “Ryan is good but just not elite” nonsense still sells? If it isn’t a deliberate attempt to throw shade at Ryan, then it’s truly unfortunate photoshopping.

Your thoughts?