Matt Ryan officially retires as an Atlanta Falcon

In a heart-warming video, just four days away from the 16th anniversary of his getting drafted, the greatest quarterback the Atlanta Falcons have ever had, Matt Ryan officially retires from the NFL.

Ryan wrote a letter to the city of Atlanta outlining how grateful he was for the chance to play for the Falcons. He thanked owner Arthur Blank, former head coach Mike Smith and former General Manager Thomas Dimitroff who decided to use their first draft pick as a new regime to select Ryan second overall in 2008.

Ryan helped lead the Falcons to an 11-5 record in his rookie season, behind the tutelage of veteran center Todd McClure, linebacker Keith Brooking, wide receiver Brian Finneran, strong safety Lawyer Milloy, defensive end John Abraham and “a whole bunch of others,” according to Ryan.

After winning his debut against the Detroit Lions on September 7th, 2008, the Falcons did not dip under .500 again until December 13th, 2009, the second of two games Ryan missed after suffering a turf toe injury. Ryan ultimately came back at the end of the season and led the team to three straight victories to finish 9-7.

That is what Ryan brought to Atlanta: Stability.

After a tumultuous 2007 season that featured every possible negative imaginable for a franchise, Ryan was a steadying force that grew into a dominant one. Due to the presence of big names like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and so on, Ryan was not usually the topic of discussion for quarterback play.

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That didn’t stop him from putting up the most passing yards (59,735, more than doubled Steve Bartkowski’s 23,470), most passing touchdowns (367, more than double Bartkowski’s 154), the highest completion percentage (65.5%), the highest passer rating (94.2) and most importantly, winning the most games (120, more than double Bartkowski’s 55) of any Falcons quarterback in history.

His best season came in 2016. Under now-San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, Ryan blossomed past the likes of Brady, Manning and Rogers to win the MVP with his 4,944 passing yards on a 69.9% completion percentage, 38 touchdowns to just seven interceptions and a league-best 117.1 QB rating. The Falcons ended the season 11-5 and made a magical run to the Super Bowl behind Ryan.

There aren’t enough words to describe how pivotal Ryan has been to the Falcons since he was drafted. But I can tell you that as much as Ryan may want to thank the city of Atlanta, Atlanta needs to thank Ryan as well.

Thank you for showing Atlanta how a starting quarterback is supposed to lead, how they are supposed to play, how they are supposed to win.

Thank you for bringing an air of confidence to wearing the red and black that was sometimes lost in the years leading up to your tenure as QB1. 

Matt Ryan is the standard in Atlanta, and we thank you for everything you brought us on a week-to-week basis during your time here.

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