HOUSTON – Thursday represented the final Super Bowl pregame interaction between the media and the players – much to the relief of all involved.
So we suggested to Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan that this was his last chance to say something controversial, something that would establish his place in Super Bowl history regardless of how Sunday’s game plays outs.
If he really worked at it, he could be Joe Namath predicting a victory by poolside in the third Super Bowl.
Or, he could be Jim McMahon mooning a media helicopter in the 20th.
All I was asking was for Ryan to say his team clearly was three touchdowns better than the Patriots or that Tom Brady was more overrated than Adam Sandler.
Alas, he decided to take another tact. He decided to keep being Matt Ryan.
“I think you guys know well enough that through the thousands of interviews we’ve done this year, that probably is not going to happen,” he said, chuckling.
That led to the broader question of how the Falcons – such newbies to the Super Bowl experience compared with the New England Patriots – have handled the nonsense of this game. That is a potential factor, given that while their coach is an old hand at this stuff, only five Falcons have previous Super Bowl experience (none of them starters).
On that topic, Ryan was much more expansive.
He sounded genuinely pleased with the preparations for Sunday, which should give some aid and comfort to Falcons fans.
“I think our guys have done a great job,” he said.
“Obviously this part of the week is different from what we normally deal with, but I think we’ve got a group that’s focused on the right things, a group that understands we have this (media) obligation and to do it professionally.
“But at the same time when (the off-field chores are) done, they’re done. And it’s time to get to work and take care of business. I think our guys have had the right mindset the entire week. When it’s been time to do this (interviews), we’ve done it. And when it’s time to get to work we’ve been able to check in and focus. I’m proud of our guys for that.”