Matt Ryan Is Old School
PHILADELPHIA — One sweltering Friday last July, the football team for William Penn Charter School pushed its morning workout back to the afternoon. Some alums might be stopping by, the high school players were told. At a school that’s been around since 1689, that isn’t anything out of the ordinary.
The 47-acre campus of the private pre-K–12 school in Northwest Philadelphia has many amenities, shade for the football field isn’t among them. For the Northeast kids, running routes in 90-plus degree temps under a blazing afternoon sun would be one of the most grueling sessions of the summer. Until they found out whose passes they’d be catching.
“Alums” weren’t stopping by. Just one alum. Matt Ryan, Class of 2003, was fresh off a flight from Atlanta and had casually asked one of his old coaches if there was a football practice going on.
The high-schoolers all queued up to have a catch, from the senior receiver who was nervous about how hard Ryan would sling it at him to the two freshman offensive linemen who mustered up the courage to give it a try. One of those two freshmen lined up at receiver; the other at cornerback. They rumbled down the field, and the receiver wriggled free on a double move. He laid his body all the way out to catch the pass Ryan lobbed his way because, well, how often do you get to make a catch from an NFL quarterback?
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