PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Every once in a while he’ll slip and a southern accent will emerge, then Matt Ryan will look around at his family and friends and they’ll all laugh. The Atlanta Falcons’ star quarterback has immersed himself into the Atlanta region. He’s one of a handful of that city’s most recognizable faces. He’s involved in local charities, wears the face of the Falcons’ franchise extremely well and is the team’s all-time greatest quarterback, owning most, if not all, of the Falcons’ passing records.
The reigning MVP may live in the Atlanta region, foster their way of life, but there is no escaping his Philadelphia-area roots.
So if the frothy fans at Lincoln Financial Field think they could move or intimidate Ryan, they better think again—because it wasn’t that long that Ryan was one of them. And regardless of where he currently lives, you can take the man out of Philly, but there’s no taking Philly out of the man.
Ryan will no doubt have an army of his own on Saturday when the Eagles host the Falcons at 4:35 P.M. at Lincoln Financial Field. In the past when the Falcons played at the Linc, Ryan has had as many as over 60 family and friends from in around the Philadelphia area. They were there to watch their brother, their cousin, their life-long friend who still loves visiting the Jersey Shore during the summer.
In six career starts against the Eagles, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound 32-year-old who is originally from Exton, Chester County, is 3-3 against his hometown team, completing 126 of 210 passes for 1,549 yards and 14 touchdowns against eight interceptions. The third overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft has a 4-5 postseason record, completing 215 of 315 passes for 2,462 yards and 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
“My grandfather [maternal patriarch Sam Loughery] would always tell me about playing the game, playing hard and never giving up,” Ryan said a few years ago. “He used to stress playing the game and not using your mouth. I loved the Eagles growing up, and I still want to see them win—when they’re not playing us. My family and friends still remain Eagles’ fans when they’re not playing us.
“I know the Philly crowd. I know how demanding they could be and they have a right to be, because they’re passionate fans who want a winner.”
In the Eagles’ 24-15 victory over Atlanta last year, Ryan and the Falcons only converted two of 11 third-down attempts. Atlanta had season lows in points for a game (15) and total yards (303).
The Eagles also had Carson Wentz. The Eagles also didn’t win another game until over a month after beating Atlanta.