Matt Ryan says farewell to Falcons fans

Former Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan issued a farewell to Atlanta, including a full-page ad in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on Wednesday. Ryan was traded to the Indianapolis Colts on Monday after 14 seasons with the Falcons.

Here is his letter:

Thank you, Atlanta

Fourteen years ago, Arthur Blank gave me the opportunity of a lifetime: to fulfill my dream of playing in the NFL, and to do it as the quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons.

Thank you, Mr. Blank.

Thank you, Atlanta.

From the moment I landed here, late at night just hours after having been drafted, I felt at home. The team welcomed me, balancing the typical indoctrinations of a rookie with the generous acceptance of wise and experienced veterans. The city supported me, bringing enthusiasm to games but also to the more casual interactions we had day-to-day. Even though I was a young kid with nothing to compare this experience to, I knew how lucky I was.

When my first NFL pass ended with a touchdown, I admit that I felt like this was all meant to be. I was immediately determined to do as right by Atlanta as Atlanta was doing by me. I carried that determination with me through every season that followed.

Former Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan issued a farewell to Atlanta in a full-page ad in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Credit: File

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Credit: File

Sports are sports, and there is a reason why we play the game every week. Winners are not preordained, and every drive does not end in a touchdown. Success became all the sweeter, not only because I knew it was not guaranteed, but because I was enjoying it with teammates and fans who had worked hard to earn it.

There were of course disappointments, large and small. They did not shake my faith in this team, or in my determination to deliver. The disappointments became motivations. I will always be proud to come from an organization and a city whose creed is to rise up. There were a lot of changes, too. New coaches, new teammates, new stadiums. For 14 seasons, though, my goal was to embrace those changes and grow with them.

Over that time, my roots in Atlanta were growing, too. I got married and we moved into our first home together here. We navigated a complicated pregnancy with the incredible doctors and nurses at Northside Hospital. We welcomed our sons and have watched them grow up into toddlers.

With all of this, I have long thought and often said that I would retire as a Falcon. But the changes and growth continue. As excited as I am about this next step in my career, this is a bittersweet moment.

I have spent more than a decade playing for you, the fans of Atlanta. You have made all of this worth it, and all of this means something more than what could ever be reflected in a statistic. I appreciate each and every one of you, and I thank you, so sincerely, for the life you have given me all of these seasons.

I am also very grateful to the coaches and teammates I have played with over the years. There are too many to list here, but I hope each of you know how much you have shaped me as a player and as a person. I look forward to crossing paths, on the field and off.

I cannot say enough about the staff of the Falcons organization. They are the unsung MVPs, tirelessly working to make every practice, every game, and every offseason run as smoothly as possible. I could concentrate on my job because of how dedicated they were to theirs.

Atlanta is a city of courage and charisma. I am humbled to think that Sarah and I can continue to play a part in its forward momentum. We launched ATL: Advance The Lives in 2020 to combat systemic barriers that Black youth face as part of a mission to create generational change. Our personal change in geography will not disrupt our commitment to that cause.

To the wife, mother, and partner I keep referencing: Sarah, you have been with me through every step of this. Any impact I have made here is shared equally by you. I have had a lot of great teammates, but none better than you. As we make this move, and wherever life takes us, I will be forever lucky to have traveled there with you, Marshall and Johnny.

To the rest of my family and friends, thank you for all of the loyalty and support. Sorry you have to get a new set of gear.

It seems impossible to sum up 14 years, and to adequately express my feelings about them. As much as I have learned about change, though, I know this: Nothing can change what this time has meant to me.

So, again. Thank you, Atlanta.

Matt Ryan