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Matt Ryan on social justice, Colin Kaepernick and a strange offseason


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https://theathletic.com/1862904/2020/06/09/schultz-matt-ryan-on-social-justice-colin-kaepernick-and-a-strange-offseason/

 

These past several weeks of sports’ virtual reality, from team meetings to news conferences, reached Matt Ryan’s home Tuesday. The Falcons’ quarterback met with Atlanta media members Tuesday via his son’s iPad mini. It wouldn’t seem like an ideal backdrop for Ryan to open up, but he had a number of interesting comments, including what moved him to start a GoFundMe page to support the black community (he donated $500,000, and the fund has surpassed $1 million); his thoughts on police brutality and regrets about not paying more attention to issues in the past, Colin Kaepernick, the Falcons’ future and even a joke about the possibility of fake crowd noise being pumped into empty stadiums next season.

Ryan is the most recent high-profile white athlete to step up in a major way.

The interview lasted 40 minutes. Some comments have been edited for redundancy and grouped by subject.

Take it all in. There’s some good stuff here.

On his social action effort, police brutality and self-reflection
On his GoFundMe account surpassing $1 million:
“I’m obviously really excited about the response the last four or five days. I’m overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity and commitment to wanting to make change. My hope is to make a real impact on the city of Atlanta and this community and make a start at improving the current climate and the current situation. There’s a lot that needs to be done.”

His role as a team leader, as it relates to social justice issues: “The biggest thing is encouraging everybody to talk and have discussions about their feelings and to listen. It’s like anything in life. When issues come up, it’s better to get them out in the open and discuss and go through why certain people are feeling a certain way. That to me as a leader would be the thing I would encourage. Get people together, open the forum for discussion and encourage people to listen to people and to be empathetic and learn from others’ experiences.”

Dan Quinn said he felt his past actions in social action have felt “hollow,” compared to today. Have you also felt a greater need for pushing the dialogue forward? “I absolutely feel that way. Part of responding now is acknowledging that what I’ve done to this point hasn’t been good enough. I can’t really change what I’ve done, and I do wish I would’ve done more. But I can change, and I can be better moving forward. That’s more of where my mindset has gone to — to not just sit on the sidelines and silently have people’s backs. The time has come where silence isn’t good enough. That’s what I’m hoping to do, hoping to have an impact, moving forward.”

Have there been any discussions with teammates over kneeling before games? “That hasn’t come up. I expect to see that, for sure, in different ways throughout the season. Most of the discussions have been about what is going on right now, talking about the images, the protests, the police brutality. That’s really where our concentration and effort has been. As we get closer to the season and that opportunity comes up, it’s going to be about unity within our team and creating an open forum for teammates.”

On what tangible changes he wants to see: “That’s been an ongoing discussion with a number of people. One of the things I’ve learned is I like to surround myself with people smarter than I am and are more informed on situations than myself, and that’s been the process the last couple of days. I have some meetings set up with people who are more informed on where you can get the most impact.”

On where he would like money to go: “One of the things that has come up with teammates and friends is police brutality. I’m certainly looking into ways that you can address that and having discussions with people who know more about it than I do.”

On his comfort level wading into current issues: “Whether it’s positive or negative reactions to what you’re doing, if you believe it’s the right thing to do, that’s what matters. I believe this is the right thing to do, and I stand with my teammates and with my friends.”

On a specific moment that drove him in this direction: “The George Floyd video — that was incredibly tough to watch. It’s watching that, it’s a number of different things that have come up in the last few months, it’s having talked with guys about this for the better part of a decade. It’s just a culmination of all of it. And just being in a virtual setting and listening to guys talk. For whatever reason, it just felt like the right time. It was time to do something different because what I was doing wasn’t good enough.”

On the Falcons’ virtual meeting with Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: “The mayor was unbelievable. Listening to her and her reaction on all this has been admirable. She’s certainly somebody moving forward I’d love to have conversations with her about, where impact can best be made and things we can do to improve the climate here in Atlanta.”

On impactful conversations with teammates: “What has opened my eyes is how many guys have had such similar situations come up, in terms of racial profiling, and how uncomfortable it is listening to them, how uncomfortable it was for them. There have been so many guys who have had the exact same treatment. More than anything, that’s the thing that has hit home for me.”

Colin Kaepernick
On whether he should be on an NFL roster and the league’s treatment of the quarterback:
“Part of the comment that was made by the league the other day is they’ve made mistakes in treating this and how they’ve handled peaceful protests and players voicing their opinions. I think they recognize they’ve made mistakes there. As far as Colin being back in the league, he should have every opportunity to. He created awareness. It’s taken some time, but people are becoming more active in terms of their response to it. From that standpoint, his protest is being heard at this point. It might’ve taken too long. But he should have every opportunity to have a job and a spot in this league.”

On it taking four years for more players to speak up about Kaepernick: “I think finally we’ve gotten to a point of enough is enough. I wish it would’ve been sooner. I wish awareness collectively and speaking out would’ve been sooner. I’m just happy we’re in a space now where we can begin to make some changes and to push this in a direction that improves the lives of our friends and teammates and people within our community.”

On football, including no mini-camps, Gurley and Koetter
On his workouts with Todd Gurley and Hayden Hurst:
“I’m excited about both of them. I’ve probably been able to work with Hayden a little more than Todd. I’ve been incredibly impressed with Hayden’s work ethic. He has great speed, great athleticism. He wants to be a great player. The effort, the attitude all that stuff is there. He’s gotten to know some of our teammates, which is a great thing. I spent some time with (Gurley) in California and was able to spend a couple of weeks getting to know him a little better, getting a feel for him as an athlete. He’s extremely versatile out of the backfield. He looked great. He looked healthy and ready to go. The thing that struck me the most though was how smart of a player he is and his ability to retain information and to not have to circle back on things the next day. If I told him once how we were trying to work something or route concept or what we were expecting (from) him, he doesn’t forget it. So I’m impressed with both those guys.”

On the impact of not having OTAs or mini-camps: “I feel really good. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of our guys, specifically individually, early on, practicing social distancing, making sure groups were not too big. I feel like there’s an advantage to the intimacy of working with just one guy at a time and for us to be able to spend an hour-and-a-half or two hours together and go through things in a methodical and deliberate way. In certain ways, maybe we’re ahead. When you’re in the normal structure of the offseason, there are time constraints. So there are positives. The one area where we’re probably behind is on the field in terms of work with our units together. That’s going to be the same for everybody.”

On whether, given this offseason, having more veterans benefits Falcons: “I think it does. There are not a lot of guys who have to learn a new system. There’s a sense of familiarity with the coaching staff, with the playbook, player-to-player. All of those things are a positive for us.”

On differences working with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter in 2019 as opposed to previous seasons: “It’s a completely different system in terms of terminology from the first time we worked together. In terms of knowing what to expect from each other, having worked together before we were in sync. I feel like he’s much more comfortable in this system in Year 2, just having a feel for the terminology, why we’re doing certain things. It feels like to me he’s a lot further along and feels comfortable with it.”

On what the 2020 season will look like and if he would be comfortable playing in full stadiums: “I have no idea how it’s going to look. I’m sure it’ll be different from any other I’ve been a part of. As far as playing in front of full-capacity stadiums, you have to trust people who are better informed of making those decisions than I would be. If they say we’re healthy and we have a good process set up, I have to trust (them). I’ll trust the people who are experts.”

On possibly playing in empty stadiums with fake crowd noise: “I’m not sure our organization should be talking about pumping in crowd noise. I think we had a small issue with that a little while ago. But whatever they want to do with me, I’ll be ready to go.” (The Falcons forfeited a fifth-round 2016 draft pick and were fined $350,000 for pumping in fake crowd noise at home games in 2013 and 2014.)

On being in the same division with Tom Brady: “Yeah. It’s like, ‘Man, really?’ The NFC South. It’s going to be a tough division. Tom’s a great player. Any time you add a guy who’s won that many championships, that many games, you know he’s going to be tough to beat. It’s about us, though. We have to have ourselves ready to go because I have to believe we’re right there with all of those teams. They have to deal with us, as well.”

 

 

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It's cool and all how seriously Ryan is taking this, but I'll admit it feels weird having so many black athletes on the team also speaking out, yet Ryan is still the figurehead on this issue.

Before this devolves the thread...it really is good to see. But there are dudes like Jarrett who already knelt several years ago, so it feels like the perspective of someone like him would yield more tangible and meaningful material than this seeming PR nothingness.

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20 minutes ago, Dirtier Bird said:

Does anyone have any actual stats on racial police brutality? I read that unarmed whites are actually killed more often than unarmed blacks, but that both were very rare. Something like 4/10,000 whites per arrest and 3/10,000 blacks per arrest. I remember a white guy crawling down a motel hallway got lit up and killed by some white cops, but don't recall any riots afterwards.

Here are my thoughts: while I completely understand the reasoning behind the #BlackLivesMatter movement, I would much prefer it if it said  #AllLivesMatter.  
 

There have been 420 police shootings/deaths in 2020 and 88 of those have been African Americans.  Police officers are trained killers and they abuse their powers on every segment of the downtrodden community.  #AllLivesMatter

I think it’s time we start reallocating resources from the police to mental illness professionals.  Violent crimes make up a small % of arrests.  60% of those held in jail suffer from mental illness.   Instead of sending police to deal with an issue, send mental illness professionals along with an officer.  I think this would provide a more balanced & less violent environment.

Back on topic....Ryan is a pimp.  Great role model

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3 hours ago, Goober Pyle said:

 

 “Yeah. It’s like, ‘Man, really?’ The NFC South. It’s going to be a tough division. Tom’s a great player. Any time you add a guy who’s won that many championships, that many games, you know he’s going to be tough to beat. It’s about us, though. We have to have ourselves ready to go because I have to believe we’re right there with all of those teams. They have to deal with us, as well.”

 

 

 

35 minutes ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

 

Back on topic....Ryan is a pimp.  Great role model

Thats my Quarterback.  So **** Icy.

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7 hours ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

Here are my thoughts: while I completely understand the reasoning behind the #BlackLivesMatter movement, I would much prefer it if it said  #AllLivesMatter.  
 

There have been 420 police shootings/deaths in 2020 and 88 of those have been African Americans.  Police officers are trained killers and they abuse their powers on every segment of the downtrodden community.  #AllLivesMatter

I think it’s time we start reallocating resources from the police to mental illness professionals.  Violent crimes make up a small % of arrests.  60% of those held in jail suffer from mental illness.   Instead of sending police to deal with an issue, send mental illness professionals along with an officer.  I think this would provide a more balanced & less violent environment.

Back on topic....Ryan is a pimp.  Great role model

Telling someone that "all-lives-matter" when they are talking about "black-lives-matter" is like going up to someone that is fund raising for breast cancer and saying why are you doing that when "all cancer is bad"

Yes of course all lives matter, but African Americans are disproportionately killed by cops and that needs to stop. African Americans make up 8-10% of the US population but account for 40-50% of deaths by cops.

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2 hours ago, ya_boi_j said:

You haven’t been keeping up with the reports have you?

It was a facetious comment! So, since it was posted as such, intended as more rhetorical than anything, I really didn’t assume, or expect anyone to respond. And no, one can’t jell totally just by communicating virtually! Until you are in ones presence and interacting physically, it’s impossible to get immersed on a personal level. 

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Just now, roguebeaver said:

It was a facetious comment! So, since it was posted as such, intended as more rhetorical than anything, I really didn’t assume, or expect anyone to respond. And no, one can’t jell totally just by communicating virtually! Until you are in ones presence and interacting physically, it’s impossible to get immersed on a personal level. 

You do know they have been together face to face, right?

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2 hours ago, ya_boi_j said:

Welp, this thread is gonna end up deleted. Just visit anything but football for the none football related stuff. He said a lot about football in that interview. 

But, took it into a personal and politically tinged arena. But, that is his choice, irrespective of whether you are or are not for the 1st amendment. I believe in the first amendment. So, I’m good with whatever one chooses to say. 

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2 minutes ago, roguebeaver said:

But, took it into a personal and politically tinged arena. But, that is his choice, irrespective of whether you are or are not for the 1st amendment. I believe in the first amendment. So, I’m good with whatever one chooses to say. 

Alrighty then. 

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