Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan Draws Love, Ire of Fans League-Wide

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes players are so polarizing they dominate the headlines with the factions of love and hate that exist amongst both fans and the media, such as NBA King of Kings, LeBron James. But sometimes players can be polarizing, and you’d never even really know it. Such is the case of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

There are generally two sides when it comes to discussing the Falcons’ star quarterback.

“Matt Ryan is my quarterback”

or

“Get rid of that guy, please!”

Rarely do you hear any Falcons fan (or any football fan for that matter) sitting on the fence when it comes to discussing the Boston College product.

If you live in the Atlanta area and listen to sports talk radio or watch the local news, Matt Ryan is either being lifted up and praised, or absolutely skewered. The same holds true on a nationwide level. There’s just no middle ground about Ryan. He’s the greatest, or he stinks.

But love him or hate him, Ryan is the Falcons quarterback right now, and probably for the foreseeable future (depending on how these contract extension talks go), so the rift that exists between the two sides can only be repaired in Ryan’s favor by one thing and one thing only.

Win…and win it all.

Just ask Joe Flacco, who came into the league the same year as Ryan and faced a similar problem. Flacco was blasted by some and defended by just as many. Now that he’s won a Super Bowl he’s the highest paid QB in the history of the NFL, and suddenly analysts are talking about how other QBs could replicate Flacco’s game.

While Joe “Dull” Flacco won his first Super Bowl this season, Matt “Don’t Call Me Ice” Ryan finally won his first playoff game. It might not sound like a big deal when you compare the careers of the two, but in the eyes of the football world, losing in the postseason–especially consistently–is the great unforgivable sin.

In football, winning in the postseason is the best way to tell those who want to be critical to sssshhhhhhh!

Well, unless you’re Tim Tebow.

Ryan has put up some impressive stats during his first five years in the league, and he’s still young enough that he’ll have a lot of good years left in him. But something can happen to a quarterback when those whispers of “you just aren’t quite good enough” start to get really loud and resonate with every snap of the ball. Confidence is one thing in the NFL that can actually be fragile.

Well, unless you’re Randy Moss.

The understated divisiveness that Matt Ryan causes isn’t going to go away unless Ryan does something to make it go away, by either completely falling to pieces and proving his detractors right, or by gunslinging his way through the playoffs en route to a Falcons Super Bowl victory.

Until then – neutral corners everyone, and “Let’s get it on!”

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Michael Collins is a Rant Sports Senior NFL Writer, and Atlanta sports columnist. Follow him @GaSportsCraze on Twitter and here on Facebook


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